Teen mysteriously dies in car after repeated calls to 911, police chief orders internal review into ‘horrific tragedy’
iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — A 16-year-old boy in Cincinnati, Ohio, was mysteriously found dead in his car this week, hours after he called 911 pleading for help.
Now the local police chief has directed an internal investigation into the actions of all employees involved in Kyle Plush’s two desperate calls to 911 before he died from asphyxia due to chest compression.
One of the 911 dispatchers, Amber Smith, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said.
“This young man was crying out for help” when he spoke to Smith, Isaac said at a news conference this afternoon. “We weren’t able to get that information to the officers on the scene. We need to find out why.”
On Tuesday afternoon, in a call to 911, Plush said, “Help! I’m stuck in my van. … I need help!”
But Plush could not hear the dispatcher, police said.
An operator repeatedly asked Plush where he was. The teen said several times he was at “Seven Hills,” which is the name of the Cincinnati school he attended.
The terrified teen is heard screaming and later said on the call, “I’m in desperate need of help!”
The call lasted nearly 3 minutes before it disconnected, police said. Dispatchers tried to call Plush back but reached his voicemail, police said.
Officers responded to the area and tried to find the car, but “based on the information relayed to the officers, efforts to locate the caller were unsuccessful,” police said.
In another call to 911, Plush said, “I probably don’t have much time left. Tell my mom I love her if I die.”
“This is not a joke,” Plush said. “I’m trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the … parking lot of Seven Hills.”
“Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead,” he said.
In another heartbreaking 911 call, the teen’s mother told a dispatcher, “We don’t know where he is. He’s 16 years old. He was driving a gold Honda van. He goes to Seven Hills School. I’m not sure what to do.”
At about 9 p.m., someone called 911 to say Plush’s car was found, police said. The teen was found inside and declared dead, police said.
The police chief called Plush’s death a “horrific tragedy.”
The teen 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.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said he is reviewing Plush’s death with help from the coroner’s office.
“This young man was trapped in the third row bench seat, and it is called asphyxia due to chest compression,” Deters said. “We are actively working to identify experts to assist us in this investigation.”
Police told WCPO that Plush was in a Honda Odyssey 2002.
A Honda spokesperson told ABC News “there have been no recalls affecting the seats of the 2002 Honda Odyssey in the United States.”
The spokesperson added, “Without further details about the incident, I’m not in a position to speculate about what happened, but, in the absence of any recalls that could be related to this sort of incident, it would be premature to speculate that a vehicle defect was involved.”
The police said “a further review of all communications records has prompted the Cincinnati Police Department to initiate a full procedural and technical review of all calls received by the Emergency Communications Section and associated dispatch recordings related to this incident.”
City officials, who run the 911 center, also are investigating, City Manager Harry Black said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“This matter is very disturbing,” Black said. “If there are deficiencies on the part of the 911 center operations, my mandate is to fix whatever needs to be fixed.”
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