TODAY   |  March 02, 2013

Brother of sinkhole victim: ‘I could hear him screaming for me’

A sinkhole opened up and swallowed a Florida man in his home on Friday. The victim, 36-year-old Jeff Bush, is feared dead as the sinkhole continues to deepen. TODAY’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>> hole in florida . it's a heartbreaking story. one man is presumed dead after his bedroom sank into the ground. and attempts to find him are on hold because authorities fear the entire house could collapse. gabe gutierrez is in seffner, florida , near tampa, with the latest good morning.

>> reporter: the sink hole is deepening and investigators are having a tough time getting inside the home. so far they've been unable to figure out what caused it. this scene is right out of a horror movie. the frantic 911 call came late thursday night.

>> okay, what happened to the house?

>> um, the bedroom floor just collapsed and my brother-in-law is in there. he's underneath the house.

>> a man had been in his bed inside this home near tampa. the next moment, he was gone. swallowed by a sink hole about 30 feet wide and more than 20 feet deep.

>> it's unreal. i don't believe it's real.

>> reporter: the victim, identified by family members as 36-year-old jeff bush. a landscaper.

>> great guy. there were times when he pedalled his bike all day long to get a job. and he just wanted to help somebody else.

>> reporter: this time, others did what they could for him. his brother was inside the house, heard the crash and jumped in the hole to rescue jeff .

>> and i couldn't get him. all i could hear -- i thought i could hear him screaming for me, hollering for me. help me. i couldn't do nothing.

>> reporter: then came a sheriff and he was able to pull the brother to safety but no sign of jeff .

>> as i was pulling him up, i was looking at the hole watching it collapse, watching the bed frame and everything sink into the ground.

>> reporter: sink holes tend to happen in these seven states, but their especially common in floor where 50,000 have been recorded including this 400 foot hole in 1981 that devoured cars, homes, and businesses. experts say many things can cause sink holes , in florida , it's a domino effect . the state's sandy soil on top of clay supported on a deep layer of limestone and suddenly can collapse due to a dramatic shift in florida 's unique underground rivers. investigators aren't sure what caused this collapse because they can't get near it.

>> until we know it's safe to bring equipment, we're really handicapped and paralyzed and can't do a whole lot more than sit and wait.

>> reporter: and engineers say they might have to demolish the small house even though from the outside it looks like nothing happened, erica?

>> what a story. gabe, thank