A pair of Cincinnati parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city on Monday after their 16-year-old son’s 911 calls for help failed to prevent his death when he became trapped in a minivan last year.

Kyle Plush died in April 2018 after a third-row seat in the family's Honda Odyssey unlatched, flipped over and pinned him between the seat and minivan floor while he was attempting to find an athletic bag in the parking lot of his high school, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.


He made two 911 calls via the voice activation Siri feature on his iPhone but operators never sent fire or medical emergency crews to his location. 

"I probably don't have much time left, so tell my mom that I love her if I die," Kyle said in the second call as he struggled to breathe.

Help never arrived for the teenager, who died of asphyxiation under the weight of the 80-pound fixture pressed against his chest. 

His parents said they filed a lawsuit against Cincinnati to find out what happened. The newspaper reported that they are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as court-supervised reforms to the city’s 911 system.

“We can’t change [what happened to Kyle], but we can change the future and make sure it never happens again,” Ron Plush said. “We want to ensure that when you do call 911 that help is going to come and it’s going to come immediately and it’s going to be the right help because seconds and minutes matter.”

The suit names several city officials and workers, including former City Manager Harry Black, who was on the job at the time of Kyle’s death; Emergency Communication Center employees Amber Smith and Stephanie Magee; and Cincinnati Police Officers Edsel Osborne and Brian Brazile.

Magee was the operator who took Kyle’s call at 3:14 p.m. and had trouble understanding him.

"Help me," Kyle said. "I'm going to die. I'm in a van at Seven Hills [inaudible] shop."

The Enquirer reports that Magee misclassified the call as “unknown trouble,” meaning fire and rescue officers were not dispatched to leave.

She sent police officers Osbourne and Brazile to the school but they never exited their car because didn’t see any immediate signs of trouble. They soon left.

Kyle called back at 3:35 pm while the officers were still there, describing the gold Honda Odyssey he was stuck in to the new call-taker, Smith.

The lawsuit obtained by the Enquirer states that Smith implemented technology used for hearing impaired calls.

Before she hit the button, Kyle can reportedly be heard saying “help me.”

“I can’t hear you,” Smith replied.

Kyle’s body was discovered by his father in the parking lot nearly seven hours later when he went looking for his son, who had not returned home from a tennis match.

Employees at the 911 center have reportedly since gotten additional training and a new policy at the police department requires officers to get out of their car and look around when responding to unknown disturbances.

The city also upgraded to a new “smart 911” system that allows people to put information into the 911 system to aid emergency responders.

City officials, however, have not yet purchased equipment they pledged to buy that that can pinpoint the location of a 911 caller and send a map to police cruisers, the Enquirer noted.

City spokesman Casey Weldon told the newspaper in April that officials are “actively working on a more permanent and direct mapping solution." 

Cincinnati City Manager Patrick Duhaney said that the city has been working to “evaluate, review and enhance” the way it handles emergency response since the day of Kyle’s death.

"As a result, the Emergency Communications Center exceeds state and national standards for 9-1-1 call answering. We have developed and implemented these changes in a transparent and collaborative manner,” Duhaney said.

Federal safety regulators had received a warning about the possible safety defect in the minivan model weeks before Kyle died, the Enquirer reported. 

The owner of a 2011 Odyssey said the third-row seat had a chronic latching problem and would suddenly flip over if someone sat or learned against it.

"[It] does not latch properly. The seat falls backwards when my 8-year-old son sits on it," warned the vehicle owner. "It doesn't matter if the vehicle is in motion or not. The seat goes in a backward motion when someone is sitting in it with the pressure of their back leaning on it. I feel this could be dangerous and needs to have a recall." 

No action was taken by federal officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which didn’t recognize a pattern after getting just four other complaints about the seat issue.