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As Ohio teen who died after being stuck in van pleaded for help, why didn't officers find him?

911 call's GPS coordinates showed van's location
Posted: 12:28 PM, Apr 12, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-12 18:33:38Z

CINCINNATI -- When police were sent to Seven Hills School on Tuesday afternoon, they were told a female caller was stuck in a van.

The GPS coordinates on that call were within feet of where Kyle Plush, a 16-year-old male student, would be found dead hours later.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac hasn't yet talked publicly about what happened that day. The police department, which touts itself as a model for transparency, has been quiet about Plush's death. They're planning to hold a news conference at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Nearly two days after he suffocated, numerous questions remain about what went wrong and why a teenage boy is dead even as he pleaded with a 911 operator to send help.

What we know, and don't know

Plush called 911 at about 3:16 p.m. Tuesday. He knew he was in trouble but struggled to communicate with the operator . Over the course of a three-minute call in which he gasped, cried repeatedly for help, he relayed that he was trapped inside his car in the parking lot of Seven Hills School.

Through Plush's cries for help, the 911 operator indicated the caller was female.

TIMELINE: What happened the day Kyle Plush died?

A computer-aided dispatch report contained latitude-longitude coordinates on that call. Notes in that report indicated the call may have come from the "thrift store parking lot across the street." Seven Hills has a resale store across Red Bank Road from the school's Hillsdale campus.

GPS coordinates on Kyle Plush's 911 call were within feet of where he'd ultimately be found dead.

And those coordinates were within feet of where Plush was trapped inside his Honda minivan, dying.

A unit with two officers was assigned to respond and reported finding nothing. It's not clear what actions they took when they arrived. Their run was marked complete about 11 minutes after they arrived, dispatch records show.

A Hamilton County deputy, who directs traffic at the school, said he didn't know of any woman trapped in a minivan. He questioned if the call had been a prank.

Plush was there. He called again.

"This is not a joke," he said. "I am trapped inside a gold Honda Odyssey van in the (inaudible) parking lot of Seven Hills. ... Send officers immediately. I'm almost dead."

READ MORE: Did defective van kill Seven Hills student?

At several points in the second three-minute call, during which the operator does not respond and loud banging or heavy breathing can be heard, he attempts to call on the Siri automated iPhone assistant without success.

Again, it's unclear what kind of search the deputy conducted. Like the police department, the sheriff's office has not spoken publicly about Plush's death.

At about 8 p.m., Plush's mother called Hamilton County's 911 center to report her son was missing. She said an app on her phone showed he was still at Seven Hills.

"My son never comes home from school and we thought he was at a tennis match and he never came home from school," she said.

If he really was due at a tennis match, the school has not explained why no one looked for Plush. And it's not clear if anyone -- police officers, the deputy, or 911 officials -- ever contacted the school about Plush's call.

Around 9 p.m., according to police, a family member discovered him dead inside the van -- a death Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco would rule accidental "asphyxia caused by chest compression."

Something -- neither Sammarco nor Lt. Steve Saunders indicated what -- had pressed so hard against Plush's chest that he suffocated.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Thursday that Plush was "trapped in the third row bench seat, and it is called positional asphyxiation." His office is investigating.