Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rules, lack of options led to call to leave man's body in sinkhole

When the earth opened Thursday night on Faithway Drive in Seffner and consumed 37-year-old Jeffrey Bush, it set in motion a chain of events for responders who tried first to save Bush, then to recover his remains, then to decide that the hole that killed him would be his final resting place.

In such events, the rescue and recovery efforts should be governed by a set of rules, according to experts in emergency management. The same rules could apply to fires, earthquakes, floods or rescues at sea.

When it comes to rescue, the first rule is that nobody else gets hurt or dies. Second, the responders should never do anything they're not trained or equipped to do. The third rule is that you continue rescue attempts as you gather more information about what's going on at the scene, with the caveat that rescuers not violate the first or second rule.

"Every time you make an attempt, you reevaluate the situation," said Robert McDaniel, senior fellow at the Center for Disaster Risk Policy at Florida State University. "At any time that the relevant information suggests that the subject is still alive, you consider making another attempt, as long as you consider rules one or two."

During those intense days, as Bush's family waited for news, rescuers were constantly evaluating information and deciding how and whether to proceed. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Larry McKinnon called it a "gallant and exhaustive effort" to rescue Bush, then, when it seemed highly unlikely he was still alive, to recover his remains. That operation, too, was eventually considered too risky.

"The problem with these sinkholes is that they can give way and have a small hole open, and then the hole grows larger," said Stephen Kish, a geologist at FSU's Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science. "The ground is falling in. Think of it as an almost cylindrical hole and the ground around the edge is collapsing."

"Think of it like having wet sand," said University of South Florida geologist Philip Van Beynen. "You're trying to dig out some sand but it constantly keeps trying to fall in. ... They're dealing with very, very wet soil. It's incredibly difficult to remove the sediment."

Not knowing exactly where in the collapse they would find Bush's remains complicated the recovery effort.

One factor that may have hampered efforts is the rarity of such a dramatic situation.

"Usually, in a lot of cases, there's a little bit of warning before the collapse," said Kish. "The ground subsides just a little."

Whether rescuers could be better prepared for a similar situation is a complicated question.

"Is it possible that we can train for and equip ourselves for every situation that we can recover? Yes, and we could bankrupt society," said McDaniel, adding that he knows of no technology specifically designed for safely rescuing someone from a sinkhole. "But if somebody came up with a great way of doing that and if it saves lives, I'm all for it."

Construction crews continue demolition of 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner on Tuesday. A sinkhole originated under a bedroom at the house Thursday evening, swallowing Jeffrey Bush.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Construction crews continue demolition of 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner on Tuesday. A sinkhole originated under a bedroom at the house Thursday evening, swallowing Jeffrey Bush.

Rules, lack of options led to call to leave man's body in sinkhole 03/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 10:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees

    Airlines

    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  2. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  3. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.
  4. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  5. Video: The scene in Seminole Heights at the sites of three killings

    News

    Tampa police have blanketed the Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood during their investigation of three shooting deaths over 11 days that they believe to be related.

    Balloons and candles seen along 15th Street where Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found dead on Oct. 19, photographed in Southeast Seminole Heights in Tampa on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Three shooting deaths in the area in the last two weeks are considered by police to be related.