Nightly News   |  March 03, 2013

Sinkhole home being torn down

Authorities in Florida are tearing down the home covering the huge sinkhole that swallowed a man in his bedroom, NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> a sad day in one neighborhood in central florida as demolition began in a house that became a death trap for a man who was pulled into the ground by a large sinkhole. authorities say it's unlikely they will ever recover his body. nbc's gabe gutierrez is in seffner, florida, tonight. gabe?

>> reporter: lester, good evening. today, a giant crane peeled open this house behind me, remarkably, half of it is still standing despite the huge sinkhole underneath. on one side of the street, a delicate demolition. on the other, heartbreak. janelle wheeler lived in that home.

>> it is really hard to see. over 40 years of memories just -- just gone.

>> reporter: the house near tampa deemed too unstable after a sinkhole at least 50 feet deep and 30 feet wide swallowed a man while he slept and kept growing. today, authorities recovered keepsakes for the families who lived here, an american flag , pictures and a bible. a symbol of faith, plucked from the home on faithway drive.

>> god works in mysterious ways answered knew we needed this.

>> reporter: wanda carter grew up in this house, which is now the final resting place for 36-year-old jeff bush, sucked into the earth late thursday night without warning. after evacuating the homes next door around testing the ground, authorities abandoned the rescue effort.

>> we didn't know if any vibrations would maybe set it off to where it would collapse in or not, you know, surprisingly, it's -- everything is holding up.

>> reporter: engineers are soon decide how best to fill the hole to stabilize the area. but for this neighborhood, the void will never be filled. demolition crews plan to finish tearing this home down tomorrow, lester.

>> gabe gutierrez in florida. thank you.