(CINCINNATI) — Cincinnati police and prosecutors have launched investigations after a teenager was mysteriously found dead in his van hours after calling 911 with pleas for help.
Kyle Plush, 16, made two desperate calls to 911 before he died Tuesday from asphyxia due to chest compression inside his 2004 Honda Odyssey, authorities said.
He was retrieving his equipment from the van to play tennis when the ordeal started, a source close to the family told ABC News.
Plush became “trapped in the third-row bench seat,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that a source with knowledge of the incident told the newspaper that Plush “put a knee on the third-row bench seat and reached over the bench seat into the rear well.”
The source said, according to the Enquirer, that the bench seat then flipped backward and the force and weight trapped the boy upside down, with his “head in the rear well and legs in the air against the minivan’s rear door.”
The Cincinnati Police Department and Hamilton County Coroner’s Office declined to comment to ABC News on The Cincinnati Enquirer’s reporting.
Honda said in a statement Thursday it “does not have any specific information from which to definitively determine what occurred in this incident. We can confirm that there were no seat-related recalls affecting the 2004 Honda Odyssey.”
Two gut-wrenching calls for help
At about 3:14 p.m. Tuesday, Plush, in his first call to 911, said, “Help! I’m stuck in my van. … I need help!”
An operator repeatedly asked Plush where he was but the teen could not hear the dispatcher and wasn’t able to answer the operator’s questions, police said.
The teen did, however, say he was at “Seven Hills,” which is the name of the Cincinnati school he attended.
Banging could be heard in the background. The terrified teen is heard screaming and later said on the call, “I’m in desperate need of help!”
The call lasted nearly three minutes before it disconnected, police said. Dispatchers tried to call Plush back but reached his voicemail, police said.
At 3:21 p.m., the incident was broadcast as an unknown trouble run and officers were dispatched, police said. At 3:26 p.m., officers arrived on the scene to investigate, police said.
They patrolled the area and tried to find the caller or someone in distress, and then closed the incident at 3:37 p.m. and went back into service, police said.
Plush called 911 again at 3:35 p.m. and a different dispatcher answered, police said.
“I’m trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the … parking lot of Seven Hills,” Plush told 911. “This is not a joke.”
Plush again said he couldn’t hear the call-taker. The dispatcher and Plush didn’t communicate and the information was not relayed to the officers who were still on the scene at the time, police said.
“I probably don’t have much time left. Tell my mom I love her if I die,” Plush said. “Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.”
That night a family member found Plush inside the van, police said, and he was declared dead.
Police and prosecutors investigate
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac has directed an internal investigation into the actions of all employees involved in this case.
The 911 dispatcher who received Plush’s second call was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“This young man was crying out for help” when he spoke to that second dispatcher, Isaac said at a news conference Thursday. “We weren’t able to get that information to the officers on the scene. We need to find out why.”
Plush died from “asphyxia due to chest compression,” a preliminary autopsy determined, according to the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.
The manner of death was accidental, the coroner’s office said. There was no evidence of foul play or a drug overdose, the coroner’s office said.
Prosecutor Deters said he is reviewing Plush’s death with help from the coroner’s office.
A community in mourning
The Seven Hills School said in a statement Thursday, “We are all grieving the loss of this beloved member of our school family — a young person of keen intelligence, good humor, great courage—and we feel this loss profoundly.”
“The school’s counseling staff, assisted by outside grief counselors, are providing ongoing support to our community, our students and their families, as well as our faculty and staff,” the school said. “There is an ongoing investigation, and we are working with authorities in any way we can.”
Mercy Montessori, where Plush was a student from kindergarten to sixth grade, said in a statement, “He was an inspiration to many children and teachers at Mercy Montessori. Kyle’s gentle spirit made it a joy for others to be around him. We lovingly remember Kyle as creative, vibrant, and kind.”
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