April 13, 2018 / 9:13 PM / a year ago

U.S. agency seeks information on Honda Odyssey asphyxiation death

WASHINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday it is in contact with local authorities and Honda Motor Co in an effort to learn more about the death of a Ohio high school student who died of asphyxiation after getting trapped in a Honda Odyssey minivan.

Kyle Plush, 16, called 911 on April 10 after he told the operator he was stuck in his van in his high school parking lot in Cincinnati and warned he would die unless he was found soon.

That call prompted police to search for Plush at the high school but they were unable to find him.

In a second call to 911, Plush offered more precise information about the location of the van adding: “I probably don’t have much time left. Tell my mom I love her if I die. This is not a joke,” according to a transcript released by police.

NHTSA said in a statement Friday that it is “in contact with local authorities and Honda to understand all of the facts related to this tragic incident. The agency’s number one priority is public safety and NHTSA will take appropriate action based on its review.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said he was launching a review of Plush’s death. Deters said Plush died after he was “trapped in the third row bench seat, and it is called asphyxia due to chest compression.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Plush was reaching to get his tennis gear when he was pinned by the third-row seat.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac told reporters earlier this week he was launching an internal investigation and said something involving the second call had gone “terribly wrong” because the operator did not respond to Plush or pass on the information to police.

The operator who handled the second call was placed on administrative leave, Isaac said it is not clear what led to the failure of the operator to respond.

Plush was found hours later unresponsive in the van by family.

Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the company “does not have any specific information from which to definitively determine what occurred in this incident. We can confirm that there were no seat-related recalls affecting the 2004 Honda Odyssey.”

In November, Honda said it was recalling about 900,000 minivans because second-row seats may tip forward if not properly latched after being adjusted. The recall covered 2011-17 Honda Odyssey minivans after Honda said it had 46 reports of minor injuries related to the issue. (Reporting by David Shepardson)

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