Officials in Florida announced on Saturday that they have called off the search for the 36-year-old man who was swallowed by a sinkhole under his bedroom late Thursday night.
NBC News reported that authorities had not been able to locate Jeffrey Bush since he disappeared after the hole appeared under his family’s home in Brandon, Florida. Bush is presumed dead.
“It is with a heavy heart that I stand before you today, and that’s because the mission has changed for us,” said Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill. “My sympathies go out to the family, and to all their friends and the neighbors here who have gone through this horrible tragedy.”
Merrill said the priority now is to demolish the home, since it is not possible to recover Bush’s body. A 100-foot “safety zone” was established around the residence following Bush’s disappearance, and neighbors were evacuated. The demolition is scheduled for Sunday, and will be carried out from beyond the perimeter. The evacuated residents were given the chance to go into their homes and recover what they could.
The sinkhole, Merrill said, now extends as deep as 50 to 60 feet into the ground, twice the size of original estimates, and is now a threat to the house next door to Bush’s.
“We’re dealing with a very unusual sinkhole,” he said. “It’s very deep, it’s very wide, it’s very unstable.”
Watch Merrill’s statement, posted on Saturday by NBC News, below.