10 years ago it killed a man in a bizarre incident – now it has re-opened again for the third time

Jeffrey Bush would be celebrating his 46th birthday on July 21. But 10 years ago, the earth opened under the bed he was sleeping and swallowed him, leaving his family heartbroken over the man whose body has never been recovered.

The 37-year-old man and his bedroom were sucked into a 20 to 30-foot sinkhole that appeared without warning beneath his home in Seffner, Florida.

In early July 2023, the hole re-opened for a third time, and brother Jeremy Bush, who is every day haunted by Jeffrey’s cries, said it’s hard to see the killer hole open again in the exact same spot.

On February 28, 2013, Jeffrey Bush was asleep in his bedroom, in the home belonging to the family of Rachel Wicker, his brother Jeremy’s fiancee.

The house, in the suburbs of Tampa, was in the small community of Seffner, that has a population of less than 9,000. Jeffrey moved in the month before, joining his brother Jeremy, Rachel, daughter Hannah, and two other residents.

It was about 11 p.m., when Jeremy, 36 at the time, was readying for bed and heard a large crash, “like a car coming through the house,” followed by the heartbreaking screams of his brother pleading for help.

Fighting the tears as he recalled what happened, Jeremy explained he raced to Jeffrey’s room and without hesitation, he followed his brothers cries into the newly formed hole in the ground.
“I ran in there and heard somebody screaming, my brother screaming,” Jeremy shared after the incident. “And all I see is this big hole. All I see is the top of his bed. I didn’t see anything else, so I jumped in the hole and tried getting him out.”

Jeremey rummaged frantically through the dirt and rubble from the room, looking for his beloved brother.

“The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn’t care. I wanted to save my brother. I could hear him screaming for me, hollering for me. I couldn’t do nothing.”

The dirt rising too quickly, Jeffrey was buried, and Jeremy was pulled out by a deputy who had arrived at the scene.

The ground collapsed three times that night, expanding the depth and width of the hole. Efforts to find Jeffrey were called off 48 hours later, authorities citing there were no signs of life in the hole, that was “seriously unstable” and unsafe for rescue workers to continue.

A sinkhole is a hole that opens suddenly in the ground. They mostly occur because of erosion or underground water that gathers naturally or due to man-made activities. The Seffner sinkhole, experts say, is Mother Nature.

A hotspot for sinkholes, Florida–that has more than any other state–is a peninsula built of porous carbonate rocks, like limestone that stores and moves groundwater.

The sinkhole under Jeffrey’s room was tiered, its deepest level about 30 feet down and at its largest point, it was about 20 feet wide.

Following that tragic evening, Jeremy said the rescue teams should not have given up so soon.

“I feel like they could have tried harder to get my brother out of there,” he said. “That was my brother. No one is even talking about what my mom and dad are going through. They don’t want to be on camera. My mom and dad are going through hell right now.”

For safety precautions, the home Jeffrey died and two neighboring homes were demolished. Once the massive hole was filled with a water-gravel mixture, the property was blocked off with double fencing.

On the site, which neighbors say “looks like a park” they can’t use, are trees and a plaque that reads, “Honoring the life and loss of life and property. February 28, 2013. Jeffrey Bush July 21. 1975 – Feb. 28. 2013. The Allen, Jaudon and Wicker family homes.”

The sinkhole opened again in 2015 and was re-filled with the same mixture, which will be used again since the pit recently re-appeared.

“If there’s a reoccurrence, it’s in a controlled area. It’s going to stay right there,” said Jon-Paul Lavandeira, director of the county code enforcement department.

Speaking of related dangers to the community, Lavandeira said, “None of the homes surrounding this appear to be in any danger. This is not uncommon, what we’re seeing here.”

Most sinkholes are small, appearing in places like parking lots and roadways.

But some are larger than the one that took Jeffrey.

In 1981, a 400-foot-wide sinkhole in Orlando sucked up five cars, two businesses, a three-bedroom home and part of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

As for Jeffrey, experts said his body was likely sucked into the water table beneath the surface and may at one time flush out into the nearby Alafia River. Another theory is that Jeffrey’s body “sunk into a 60-foot-tall water-filled void between the sinkhole and the bedrock and is trapped in sediment,” said Philip van Beynen, environmental scientist who’s studied sinkholes.

#HILLSBOROUGHCOUNTY 🛑SINKHOLE THAT SWALLOWED MAN REOPENED🛑 240 Faithway Dr., Seffner This is not something that is...

Posted by Florida Scanner on Tuesday, July 11, 2023

And now that the deadly hole is open again, Jeremy is flooded with painful memories.

He said he remembered that day like it was yesterday.

“Everything was gone. His bed and him, his dresser…I tried digging him up with my hands. Ain’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my brother. Stuff that happened in that house that night and hearing my brother yell and scream for me to help him, I hear it all the time,” said Jeremy, who was at the site, watching crews working on the hole for a third time. ​”When I’m not working, I try to come by here and visit him because it’s the only place I got to visit him. It’s his last resting place. It’s hard seeing the hole back open again.”

“I still hear him hollering my name to help him,” Jeremy said.

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