Teen's suffocation death in school parking lot sparks investigation into 911 response

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Teen suffocates in van
Kyle Plush, 16, suffocated when he was trapped in a van and rescuers were not able to find him in time.

CINCINNATI (KABC) -- The family of a teenage boy who suffocated to death in Cincinnati this week is criticizing the response to the boy's calls for help.

Kyle Plush, 16, was trapped inside a vehicle in the parking lot of Seven Hills school, where he attends.

Details aren't entirely clear, but police say something was pressed against his chest with such force that it slowly suffocated him.

He called 911 for help more than once, but his family says the system failed him.

Officers were unable to locate him and critical information about the vehicle he was in was never relayed to officers on the scene, officials said.

Dispatch calls indicate police were sent to the Seven Hills School around 3 p.m.

They're told someone is in need of emergency help and running out of time.

But from the first 911 call to the time he was found about seven hours later, no one can locate Kyle Plush, who was apparently trapped inside a 2002 Honda Odyssey on the school's campus.

The calls show officers looking in a van, but not seeing anyone. It's not clear if they simply overlooked Plush or were looking in the wrong vehicle.

The teenager can be heard gasping for help and saying "tell my mom I love her."

After police find no sign of Plush, a separate incident nearby involving a woman directing traffic leads one deputy to believe this might be a hoax.

Cincinnati Police Chief Elliot Isaac said it appears Plush called 911 a second time at 3:35 p.m. and spoke to a second dispatcher and gave specific information about the make, model and color of the vehicle he was trapped in. That information had not been given when he made his first call for help.

Isaac said that new information about his vehicle was not relayed to the officers who were still on the scene at the time looking for him. That was despite a sheriff's deputy on the scene calling the emergency communications center at 3:44 p.m. seeking any additional information so he could do another check of the area after not finding anyone the first time.

After Plush didn't show up for a scheduled tennis match, his family went looking for him and tracked him down in the school parking lot with help from his phone app.

His father found Plush around 9 p.m.

He was unresponsive and not breathing. Paramedics responded but were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead on scene.

The county coroner ruled his death accidental, from asphyxia due to chest compression and said there was no indication of foul play or drug overdose.

"The young man was trapped in the third row bench seat and it is called asphyxia due to chest compression," Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters said. "We are actively trying to identify experts to assist in us in this investigation."

That second 911 call taker who apparently did not relay the additional information has been placed on administrative leave.

"On that second 911 call something has gone terribly wrong," Chief Isaac said. "This young man was crying out for help. We weren't able to get that information to the officer on the scene and we need to find out why."