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Camera Shows Depth Of Deadly Florida Sinkhole

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Aerial shots show a massive sinkhole that opened up under a home outside of Tampa. (CBS4)

Aerial shots show a massive sinkhole that opened up under a home outside of Tampa. (CBS4)

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SEFFNER (CBS4/AP) – For the first time, investigators are seeing inside the massive sinkhole that swallowed up a man as he was sleeping in his home near Tampa.

A camera has been lowered into the massive hole that claimed the life of Jeff Bush on February 28. Bush is presumed dead and authorities believe his body fell so deeply into the earth that they may never recover it.

The video shows the depth of the sinkhole in the middle of the room with only the edges of the floor visible. The video was taken by a contractor who placed a camera on the end of a pole and stuck it through a window in the home before the hole was filled and the home was demolished.

Several generations of family members lived in the home in Seffner, a suburb of 8,000 people 15 miles east of Tampa, at the time of the ground collapse.

Jeremy Bush tried to save his brother by jumping into the sinking dirt hole. He had to be pulled out of the still-shifting hole by a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy, who was visibly shaken when talking about the incident more than a day later.

“I’ve never seen anything move so fast and do so much destruction,” Deputy Douglas Duvall said.

Five others in the house at the time escape unharmed as the earth crumbled.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the investigation. Detective Larry McKinnon said the sheriff’s office and the county medical examiner cannot declare Bush dead if his body is still missing. Under Florida law, Bush’s family must petition a court to declare him deceased.

“Based on the circumstances, he’s presumed dead; however the official death certificate can only be issued by a judge and the family has to petition the court,” McKinnon said.

The area around Seffner is known for sinkholes due to the geography of the terrain, but they are rarely deadly. No one — from longtime public safety officials to geologists — could remember an incident where a person was sucked into the earth without warning.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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