Among the many natural calamities in Florida that are foreign to the average American -- killer alligators, Category 5 hurricanes, bath-salts abusing maniacs -- sinkholes are perhaps the most quietly terrifying. Think about it: At this very minute, you could be standing on a small layer of swampy dirt ready to instantly collapse into a gaping hole.
That nightmare played out for one family in Tampa early this morning. A giant sinkhole -- 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep -- opened up right under one man's bed, swallowing him whole and likely killing him.
"There is no evidence of him being alive," Jessica Damico, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Fire Department, tells CNN.
The sinkhole opened overnight in the backyard of a house in Seffner, a neighborhood in Tampa's eastern suburbs. It quickly grew to swallow one of the four bedrooms in the house.
"It sounded like a car hit my house," one of the home's occupants, Jannell Wheeler, tells the Tampa Bay Times.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Wheeler was in the house with one child and four other adults, including her 36-year-old nephew, whom police haven't identified yet. His bedroom crumbled into the sinkhole, and his screams woke Wheeler and her relatives.
When police arrived, they found the 36-year-old man's brother half-buried and trying to rescue his sibling. Police were able to pull that man out, but the house quickly became too unstable to try to rescue the other man.
He's now "presumed dead," Damico tells CNN.