Crews fill Seffner sinkhole with dirt, gravel

Hillsborough County crews filled in the sinkhole in Seffner Thursday that had reopened a day earlier, bringing back memories of when it opened in 2013, killing a man who was asleep in his home.

Workers spent the day pouring 150-tons of gravel and 24,000 gallons of water in the hole -- an almost-identical approach to the one county engineers decided to take two-and-a-half-years ago.

"What [engineers] told us is that this may occur again. If it does, it'll be in the exact same location that it is and it won't be any wider," said Ron Spiller, Director of the county's Code Enforcement.

In March 2013, a massive hole opened underneath the home on Faithway Drive, swallowing Jeffrey Bush as he slept in his bedroom. His brother tried to save him but couldn't. Bush's body was never found.

After the original hole opened, the county decided to fill it with gravel. Spiller explained the technique helps maintain the size of the hole without letting it spread. County engineers also believe this minimizes the risk that other sinkholes may open up in the surrounding area.

"It is my understanding that the hydraulics, the water, was not used at that time, which will help compress the gravel," Spiller said, as he detailed the one difference between how crews filled in the sinkhole.

Just as he did a day earlier, Spiller tried to ease the concerns of the community, reiterating that nearby homes are not in danger and the hole is not spreading.

Some neighbors, however, have trouble feeling fully comfortable.

"My whole family is worried. I'm ready to sell and get out of here. The sinkhole has done me in," added Chuck Holloway, who lives right next to the sinkhole. "We all tried to get back with our things, forget about this and now this opened up. It brought back old memories."

Holloway said he's felt like he's had to stay on alert since the hole opened the first time.

"I keep stuff packed and ready to go at all times," he explained. "That ain't going to change. I ain't going to drop my guard on account of that."

FOX 13 talked with two independent sinkhole experts. One wondered whether the county should have filled the hole in this time with concrete to better stabilize it.

Jay Silver with Helicon Property Restoration, however, said using concrete can push the water into surrounding areas and potentially cause more problems. He said, over time, gravel and water can work.

"There's no structures involved so they can keep continuing to fill it with material and pack it down,” Silver said. “Theoretically eventually they're going to plug it up and fill it with enough material to where it stabilizes itself."