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Family of Ohio teen who was crushed to death after becoming trapped inside minivan files wrongful death suit

2019-08-13

Kyle Plush died after the backseat of his minivan unexpectedly folded up, pinning him against the back door while he was reaching for his tennis equipment.

The parents of an Ohio teen who suffocated to death after becoming trapped beneath the seats of his family’s minivan has filed a wrongful death suit against the city of Cincinnati, alleging officials mishandled 911 calls made by their son in the hours leading up to his death.

Kyle Plush, 16, was reaching for tennis gear in the back of his 2004 Honda Odyssey on April 10, 2018 when the third row of seats flipped over and pinned him to the backdoor of the vehicle.

He was found dead five hours later inside the van, which had been parked in a lot near Seven Hills High School at the time. In that time frame, Kyle desperately tried to get the attention of passersby and even managed to call for help on two separate occasions — but to no avail.

The suit, filed Monday on behalf of Kyle’s parents, Ron and Jill Plush, lists the city of Cincinnati, its city manager, two officers and two 911 operators in the wrongful death case.

“He provided his location and description of the van,” the lawsuit reads. “He screamed, pounded, begged for help. No one helped him.”

Kyle first managed to call authorities around 3:15 p.m. that day, telling operator Maggie Smith that he was “trapped in his van” in his school’s parking lot.

“I’m gonna die here,” he said on the call.

Plush’s family in the lawsuit accuses Smith of failing to properly classify his call “as trapped and in need of assistance.”

“She also chose not to give police officers or a sheriff’s deputy who called in later Kyle’s precise location, which she had through wireless mapping technology,” according to the suit.

Kyle made a second call around 3:35 p.m. and provided authorities with the make and model of his vehicle.

“I probably don’t have much time left,” he told the dispatcher, “so tell my mom that I love her if I die.”

The teen’s family also places blame on the two responding officers, who they said failed to properly search the lot for Kyle despite having access to a GPS tool that would have allowed them to pinpoint his exact location.

“Kyle was alive when the officers abandoned the scene,” the suit charges. “Kyle’s father, not the police discovered his lifeless body hours later.”

The family is seeking unspecified damages and court-supervised reforms to the 911 system.

The Plushes, who have since started the Kyle Plush Answer the Call Foundation, said they brought about the suit to remind dispatchers real people are on the other end of 911 calls.

“We can’t change what happened to Kyle, but we can change the future and make sure it never happens again,” his father, Ron, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“We want to ensure that when you do call 911 that help is going to come immediately and its going to be the right help because seconds and minutes matter.”