A teen was found dead by his father Tuesday night, crushed to death by a folding seat in his van – more than six hours after the boy first called 911 for help from his school parking lot.
Now Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters is launching an investigation into why the emergency dispatch system failed 16-year-old Kyle Plush. So far, the dispatcher that received his second call has been placed on leave.
Sources told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday that Plush became trapped when he was leaning towards the back of the 2002 Honda Odyssey, trying to get tennis equipment and the third row seat collapsed backward on top of him.
He was flipped into the floor of the cargo area and pinned upside down with the seat on top of his chest.
The Honda Odyssey is equipped with seats that fold down completely into the floor so that large objects like bikes can fit inside the back of the vehicle.
Last year, a recall was issued for models made from 2011 to 2017, after owners complained about second-row seats flipping forward if not properly latched.
The Seven Hills School student called 911 around 3pm, telling an emergency operator that he was trapped inside his gold Honda Odyssey parked in the school’s parking lot.
During the three minute call, Plush gasped and cried for help, but struggled to communicate his position because he couldn’t hear what the operator was saying.
Plush used the Siri function on his phone to call 911, since he couldn’t hold it. The phone appeared to be far away from his body since the operator had a hard time making out what he was saying – and even thought it was a woman calling.
‘I probably don’t have much time left, so tell my mom that I love her if I die,’ he said during the call.
The dispatcher sent a police officer to the scene, who searched the parking lot but couldn’t find anyone stuck in a van. The officer tried calling the boy’s phone again but it went to voicemail. He told the operator in one call that he feared it might be a prank.
At some point, the boy tried calling again, and this time appeared more desperate, because there were sounds of loud banging and heavy breathing.
‘This is not a joke,’ he said. ‘I am trapped inside a gold Honda Odyssey van in the parking lot of Seven Hills. … Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.’
The lot is searched again, but still no one is found. It later was revealed that the boy was trapped in a car in the school’s overflow parking lot, across the street from the main parking lot, which the deputies did not search.
Later that evening, Plush’s mother, Jill, called police worried when he didn’t come home from school.
‘My son never came home from school,’ the victim’s mother said in released 911 audio. ‘And we thought he was at a tennis match. And he never came home from school.’
Finally, around 9pm, the boy was found by his father, trapped in the third row bench seat. Paramedics that were sent to the scene pronounced him dead.
The coroner later determined his death as accidental ‘asphyxia caused by chest compression’.
An internal investigation into all employees involved in the search has been initiated. On Thursday, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the dispatcher who received Plush’s second call, Amber Smith, has been placed on administrative leave because she did not convey information to the responding officers. There were no further details on why she did not further aid the search for the boy. Smith has worked as a dispatcher since 2014.
‘Something has gone terribly wrong,’ Isaac said. ‘We need to find out why.’
Isaac said there could have been equipment issues or human error.
Plush’s uncle told WCPO Wednesday night the 911 system failed his nephew, who was a ‘great kid’.
His school also released a statement, saying he had been a student there since sixth grade. Seven Hills is rated the best private school in Cincinnati and tuition ranges between $6,740 and $24,740 a year.
‘He was a young man of keen intelligence, good humor, and great courage, and this whole community feels this loss very deeply,’ a school spokesman said.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail – Ashley Collman