LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) – Authorities worked all day Friday to keep nearly a dozen homes safe as a devastating sinkhole swallowed two homes and caused evacuations.
“Our hearts are bleeding for the families who basically right now, their lives have been destroyed,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco at a press conference Friday evening.
Nocco said the sinkhole was far from slow-moving.
“This was at one moment, families that were living a normal life. The second moment, they were scared for their lives, being pulled out of their house, trying to take any belongings with them.”
In the press conference, Nocco brought up Deputy Jason Murphy, who was one of the first responders on scene.
Murphy was on scene around 7:38 a.m. and immediately jumped to action in the second home affected by the sinkhole.
“It had spread quite quickly,” Murphy said. “We were able to see suction coming in. Foam from the top was being pulled under the ground. At that point, large chunks of the ground were caving in.”
That didn’t stop him from entering the home and helping an elderly woman and two other women in the home get out safely.
Murphy then went back inside the home with one of the family members to retrieve medications and important documents.
“That was all they had time to save…We wanted to make sure she had what she needed at that point,” Murphy said of the elderly woman he assisted.
“When I went into the second house affected, other deputies started yelling, because at that point… the ground was already coming out from under the house,” he said. “So they were yelling at us to get out.”
Murphy also witnessed the owners of the first home swallowed by the sinkhole come home to see the destruction.
He said they were not able to get to any belongings inside their home.
“I’ve never come across anything like this before. I’ve never come across a sinkhole before,” Murphy said. “Just watching it, it was surreal watching the ground just get sucked in and disappear.”
When asked what was going through his mind, Murphy was calm.
“As far as any kind of fear or anxiety or that,” he said. “I just kind of did my job. That was it.”
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.