Wrecking crews began working to turn the Florida home that sits over a massive sinkhole to rubble today, as the homeowners grieved for their loved one whose body is unlikely to ever be recovered from the gaping chasm that suddenly opened Thursday night.
Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrell said the demolition process would be slow and methodical, with crews attempting to bring as much of the structure forward to the street as possible so the grieving family could retrieve their valuables.
Crews were able to remove the front portion of the house today and were able to retrieve some items as best as they could, but stability has been a constant worry.
"We don't know, in fact, once we start touching the building itself whether it will collapse or if parts of it will hold up," Merrell said today.
Family members, friends and neighbors of the home's former residents watched the demolition from across the street. Authorities said the crew will put a fence around the wrecked home and resume demolition on Monday.
The sinkhole, which authorities estimated now measures 30 feet across and up to 100 feet deep, will become the final resting place for 37-year-old Jeff Bush, who was in his bedroom Thursday night when the earth opened up and trapped him underneath his home.
Authorities attempted to rescue Bush, but the search effort was called off Saturday after the site became too unstable.
"We feel we have done everything we can," Merrell said. "At this point, it's not possible to recover the body."
Two homes next door to Bush's residence were evacuated Saturday after authorities feared they had been compromised by the growing sinkhole.
With the assistance of rescuers, the homeowners were given 20 minutes to retrieve their valuables.
Hillsborough County lies in what is known as Florida's "Sinkhole Alley."
More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in the area since 1954, according to the state's environmental agency.
"Well certainly you have at least dozens of sinkholes a year, but to have one occur right in the center of a home and certainly to injure and even kill somebody; I've never heard of that happening before," said John Marquardt, a geotechnical engineer.
Meanwhile, Bush's brother, Jeremy Bush, is still reeling from Thursday night.
Jeremy Bush had to be rescued by a first responder after he jumped into the hole in an attempt to rescue his brother when the home's concrete floor collapsed, but said he couldn't find him.
"I'm so sorry that they couldn't, can't get him out of the hole and that's the last place he's going to be," Bush said.