Authorities in Cincinnati are investigating what happened to 16-year-old Kyle Plush – whose body was discovered six hours after he called 911.
He was reaching for his tennis gear from the backseat of his 2004 Honda Odyssey when it flipped over and pinned him down, according to the county prosecutor.
The Seven Hills School pupil first called emergency services at around 3.15pm on Tuesday, telling them he was in “desperate need of help”.
But he was unable to hear the call handler’s questions, police said, and a callback to his phone went to voicemail.
Officers responded driving around the area but found no signs of anyone in trouble.
The schoolboy called 911 again, saying: “This is not a joke. I’m almost dead.”
He added: “Tell my mom I love her if I die.”
Police chief Eliot Isaac said something went “terribly wrong” and said officers are investigating the “horrific tragedy”.
He said the teenager had given a description of the vehicle to the dispatcher but the information had not been passed on to police officers at the scene.
It was only when Kyle failed to turn up for a tennis match that his parents realised something was wrong.
They located his phone using an app, but when they reached him in the unlocked vehicle the teenager was unresponsive and police, arriving just before 9pm, were unable to revive him.
Honda said it had no record of seat-related recalls for the model, which has a back bench seat which folds away.
Spokesman Chris Martin said “out hearts go out to the family” and added: “Honda does not have any specific information from which to definitively determine what occurred in this incident.”
Staff and pupils at Kyle’s school said his loss was felt by the community “very deeply”.
He “was truly a spectacular person” classmate Preston Luniewski said. “He just lit up the classroom.”