Family photo of Jeff Bush
Seffner, Florida - It's been nearly three weeks since a sinkhole swallowed 37-year-old Jeff Bush alive. Tuesday night, without his body, his family said goodbye. A public memorial was held in Brandon.
See also: Sinkhole swallows Seffner man
Jeff was sleeping in his bedroom on the night of February 28th when the room collapsed. Hillsborough County crews maintain that there was no safe way of saving him.
See also: New info released on decision not to recover body of sinkhole victim
Bush's Aunt, Janell Wheeler, spoke about how the family is coping.
"With the Lord's help, we're getting through it. We're doing it day by day," she said.
Hearts were heavy at what was supposed to be a celebration of celebration of life service. There was no casket or urn on the church's altar. There was, however, a framed photo of Bush with his niece and some of the few pieces of clothing saved from the family home where the sinkhole stole his life away.
Photos: See photos of the service here
Despite their grief, family members told the church members who hosted the service that they want the public to know they have a lot of gratitude.
Rich Strehl is with the Brandon Foundation, an organization that helps people in the community who've suffered a catastrophic event. He spoke on behalf of the family because they were too upset to talk during the service.
"Instead of asking why Jeff had to pass at such a young age, we can strive to be thankful that he lived," Strehl said.
Wheeler said they are thankful for the memories. She explained with a smile what she will miss the most about him- "His cooking, and just the way the kids were drawn to him."
"One of the last things that he did was to cook a meal for his family," Pastor Stephen Rummage of Bell Shoals Baptist Church told those who attended the service.
Jeff Bush went to Zephyrhills High School, and loved fishing and video games. His family said he worked in landscaping for the Department of Transportation.
"He was a guy who loved to get out and work hard. He knew how to work hard," described Pastor Rummage.
The family Bush leaves are now clinging to each other after the devastating loss. There were about 50 people who gathered at the church's chapel for the memorial service. Still, the family said they know the Tampa Bay area community and many across the country care.
"This family is grateful from everything to toothbrushes, to a place to sleep at night, for offers to cook meals for their family, to a place to store donated items and personal keepsakes," Strehl added.
Without a body, there was no graveside service or headstone, but the family is hoping to put some type of memorial on the land where the sinkhole opened to remember Jeff Bush.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking for donations to the Sinkhole Family Relief Fund. Make checks payable to the Brandon Foundation and send to:
Attn., Sinkhole Family Relief
PO Box 3197
Brandon, FL 33509
You can also contact Rich Strehl at 813 689-6889. His email is info@BrandonFoundation.com He says 100% of the donations are going straight to the family.
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Tammie Fields, 10 News