The interior of a 2014 Honda Odyssey is pictured at the New York International Auto Show in March 2013. Cincinnati teen Jacob Plush, 16, died Tuesday, April 10, 2018, after he was apparently trapped and crushed to death by the third-row bench seat of his family's minivan.
Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Kyle Jacob Plush, 16, was found dead by his father about six hours after he made the first 911 call, according to WCPO in Cincinnati. A preliminary autopsy report indicated that he died of asphyxia due to compression of his chest.
His death was ruled accidental.
“At this time, there is no indication of foul play or evidence of a drug overdose,” Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said in a written statement. “Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Kyle.”
Sammarco’s statement did not offer details of how Plush was crushed, but Honda in November recalled 800,000 Odyssey minivans because the vehicle’s second row seats can tip forward if not properly latched. The recall was for vans from 2011 to 2017.
Plush’s van was a Honda Odyssey, though the year was not immediately known.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters confirmed to WCPO in Cincinnati that Plush died of positional asphyxiation when he became trapped in a seat, but Deters said it was the van’s third-row bench seat.
His office is investigating the incident to determine exactly how Plush’s death occurred.
Officials with the city of Cincinnati and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office are also investigating why dispatchers, police officers and deputies were unable to find Plush in time to save his life.
Audio of Plush’s 911 calls, which have not been released by the media due to their graphic nature, indicated that he became increasingly desperate as his condition deteriorated. In the first call, placed shortly after 3 p.m., the teen was gasping for air as he screamed repeatedly for help, saying he was stuck inside his van “at Seven Hills.”
Plush was a sophomore at Seven Hills School, a private academy for grades pre-K through 12. He died in a parking lot near the school’s Hillsdale campus.
“I can’t hear you,” Plush told the dispatcher, according to WCPO. “I need help. I’m gonna die here.”
The dispatcher either could not hear him clearly or did not understand what he was trying to say. She asked, over and over, “Where are you? What is the address?”
“I probably don’t have much time left, so tell my mom that I love her if I die,” the teen said.
A timeline established by the news station indicates that Plush got disconnected about six or seven minutes after he placed his first call. Officers who were dispatched when that call ended tried calling him back, but the call went to voicemail.
When they did not get a response, the officers marked their assignment complete, the WCPO timeline said.
In his second call, Plush again made it clear that he knew he was dying.
“This is not a joke. I’m trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the parking lot of Seven Hills Hillsdale.”
“Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.”
As the second call ended, Plush appeared to struggle to breathe.
Throughout the second call, Plush could be asking, “Hey, Siri?” It appeared that he used the iPhone voice command to call 911.
Investigators did not say where in the van they found the teen’s phone.
It was also unclear when Plush’s second call, which lasted about three minutes, was placed.
A Hamilton County sheriff’s deputy working a traffic detail at Seven Hills responded to the calls about 10 minutes after city officers marked their assignment complete and 32 minutes after Plush’s first call for help, WCPO reported.
The deputy was also unable to find Plush’s van, and though he continued searching, he questioned whether the calls had been a prank.
The dispatcher pointed out that she put in the 911 system that the caller could be in a thrift store parking lot across the street from the school, Fox19 in Cincinnati reported.
A classmate, Preston Luniewski, told WLWT-TV that Plush was a “spectacular” person.
“He just lit up the classroom,” Luniewski said. “He would always be in class, paying attention, really productive in that environment.”
Counselors were called in to help students and staff cope with the loss.
The teen’s elementary school, Mercy Montessori, is hosting a community prayer gathering in his memory Thursday night.
“Some of our older children have siblings who are currently in high school and have been contacting me throughout the day looking for a place to gather,” Patty Normile, principal of the school, wrote on the school website. “We will use the strength of prayer, compassion and empathy to help our Mercy students, alumni family and friends.”
Normile wrote that besides his parents, Plush also has a sister in the seventh grade.