US teen who died trapped by minivan seat could not communicate properly with 911

Associated Press

16-year-old called police using voice recognition technology on his phone

Associated Press |

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It is suspected the teen was trapped by the foldaway rear seat as he reached for tennis gear in the backseat.

A 16-year-old boy in the US state of Ohio died after being trapped in the back seat of his car, despite phoning emergency services. The boy was unable to communicate properly with dispatchers because his phone was in his pocket, police have said.

A coroner says he died of asphyxiation from his abdomen being compressed. It is suspected that the foldaway rear seat flipped over as he reached for tennis gear in the back.

Cincinnati police chief Eliot Isaac presented the results of an investigation into the death of Kyle Plush on Monday before the City Council’s law and safety committee.

The investigation found that Kyle had used his phone’s voice recognition tool to call 911, as his phone was in his pocket. Kyle was not able to give back and forth answers to a dispatcher, and the phone disconnected his call.

There were technical difficulties with the city’s operating system during the call, while operators were also not able to hear initial comments that he was “going to die here” because he spoke during an automated “What is your emergency” response message.

The report said that officers initially thought they were searching for an elderly woman locked in her vehicle needing help; they stayed in their cruiser so they could search a bigger area. They were not told that during the initial 911 call someone was banging and screaming for help.

Kyle’s father, Ron Plush, said on Monday that the investigation had not provided the answers he was hoping for.

Plush found his son’s body on April 10 inside his minivan in a car-park near his school, nearly six hours after Kyle’s first 911 call.

Plush questioned why officers weren’t told his son was screaming for help.

Council members also questioned why officers didn’t just search all the vans in the carpark that day.

“Kyle did everything he should have done, everything a mom, a dad, would tell their child to do, he did,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray. “And he was failed horribly.”

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge