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Memorial Forms at Seffner Sinkhole Site, 'Angels Among Us' Observed

Family and friends paid their respects to Jeffrey Bush shortly after the March 2 press conference announcement that the search-and-rescue mission had been abandoned for safety reasons. Demolition was to begin March 3, early in the morning.

 

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill stood solemnly at the microphones March 2, at around 5 p.m., when he announced the impending demolition of the house at 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner.

"With a heavy heart I stand before you today, and that’s because the mission has changed for us," he said. "My sympathies go out to the family and to all of their friends and their neighbors here, who have gone through this horrible tragedy."

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Family, friends and neighbors banded together after the press conference to mourn the death of Jeffrey Bush, 36, who had screamed out in panic shortly before his bed, and bedroom, caved into a sinkhole Feb. 28, at around 11 p.m.

They had held on to hope that somehow, some way, Bush would be found alive.

Then, as the hours and days passed, that at least his body would be recovered for a proper burial by cremation, which is what he said he had preferred, according to Amber Wicker, whose sister, Rachel, is married to Bush's younger brother, Jeremy, 34.

According to Wicker, it was Jeremy who had attempted to save his brother's life, as he screamed out that faithful night, after it sounded like a car had crashed into the structure: "Jeremy, save me! Jeremy, save me!"

As the skies darkened March 2, it was Jeremy who carried a single rose to the sidewalk directly in front of the home, where a collection of flowers was forming, as friend after family member after neighbor paid their final respects. The night before he had placed a simple box of flowers across the street from the home, which throughout the next day had grown with additional memorial mementoes.

"The mission has changed because we can no longer sustain a rescue effort," Merrill said earlier, at times with a catch in his voice, as he stood before a sea of media. "We met with the family, we advised them of that, and that at this point we have to move beyond the rescue to the demolition phase and securing of the site."

Soon after, an extremely large piece of equipment was rolled out, getting set for the demolition work that was to begin this morning.

"Basically, the engineering team [has]  determined that the site is entirely unstable, and for that reason we really can't bring a lot of the equipment on to the site," Merrill said. "Any further work will need to be done from the perimeter."

As the memorial wound up and people readied to leave — with a bonfire planned at a neighbor's home later that evening to aid in the grieving process — a family member said to a member of the press, "We'll see you tomorrow."

He voice was slightly upbeat, and thus it was observed.

"I'm the grandson," he said, "and I believe things happen for a purpose."

He pointed to the number on the house, then to the number on the backhoe brought in to help tear it down. It was the same number: "240."

"My grandmother is here," the man said, alluding to the home's first owner, whose husband, Leland Wicker, had bought the home in 1974, when it was one of two homes in the tight-knit Seffner community.

Bill Bracken of Bracken Engineering, the county's chief engineer for urban, search and rescue, said in an interview earlier in the evening, that there was no reason why the house should still be standing.

Given the circumstances of the situation, and the characteristics of the sinkhole, "I don't know why that house is still standing," he said.

"The grandmother," this reporter noted.

Bracken paused, broke into a slight smile, and said: "That's what the family said."

Wicker was told of this exchange later in the night, after the memorial, and she agreed, saying it gave the family a measure of relief to believe that the grandmother was watching from above, telling them through the sign of the common number — "240" — that while they could never give Jeffrey Bush a proper burial, it was okay, that he was with her.

"There are angels among us," she said. "I believe that."

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RELATED COVERAGE:

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  • Seffner Sinkhole Operation Readies for Impending Demolition
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  • Video: Deputy Douglas Duvall Recounts Seffner Sinkhole Heroics
  • Situation 'Extremely Unsafe' at Seffner Sinkhole Site
  • Family Member Recalls Horror of Seffner Sinkhole Tragedy
  • Photos From the Scene of Sinkhole in Seffner
  • Video: Hillsborough Fire Chief Discusses Seffner Sinkhole
  • Hillsborough County Among Top 10 Sinkhole-Prone Florida Counties
  • Update: Sinkhole Swallows Seffner Man Sleeping in Bed
  • Video of Deputy Who Worked To Save Men From Sinkhole
  • Video: Fire Chief Answers Questions             

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Lloyd williams March 03, 2013 at 12:00 PM
We must pray4peace threw out the family but we must realise that this is a supernatural mishap theres more than meets the EYE.. UFOS ALIENS play major parts in alot of unexplained mysteries, please open your EYES2 maybe or possible look closer and see what u don't normally look 4 its there u will find it... I pray 4us ALL
Peggy Townes March 03, 2013 at 12:17 PM
You have my deepest sympathy. I am praying for the family.
Donna Carroll Erlandson March 04, 2013 at 03:15 PM
The grandson stated, "everything happens for a purpose". I too believe this, as I have "looked back" in my life and SAW the purpose. The number 240 is NOT a mistake on the machine that is destroying the house. That machine was MEANT to destroy that house. The grandson was very observant in recognizing that fact. If you "look" for signs from our loved ones that have passed over, you WILL FIND them. This young man is now in Heaven and is HAPPIER than all of us. No more worries, bills, drama, sickness and etc. Just total HAPPINESS being with GOD and the ANGELS. Those that are left here on Earth mourn however. We are left with a hole in our hearts. The family has MY deepest sympathy at this hard time in their lives. Prayers should be directed to the brother that tried to save this young man that lost his life. He will be tormented the rest of his life by this tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are for him. GOD BLESS the ENTIRE FAMILY and FRIENDS of this young man.
Donna Carroll Erlandson March 04, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Are you kidding me? Really? You think a UFO caused this sinkhole and the young man died? You certainly don't know much about the State of Florida and the geology of the State and the water that runs underground. This was NOT caused by a UFO. Please, respect the family that is going through this tragedy !!!!
Bobby Ray Mosley April 18, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Jeffery, Just remember that your family LOVES YOU. Life is NOT the same without you kiddo. You are one of God's Children and I know that you will see your daughter again in heaven someday. REST IN PEACE !!

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