- A 14-year-old boy’s body was found inside a 9-by-13-inch chimney.
- The coroners determined that Harley Dilly had died of compressive asphyxia, which occurs when the chest or abdomen is crushed by a powerful force or large weight.
- Harley had been missing since December 20. Port Clinton Police Chief Robert Hickman called Harley’s death “not the outcome we wanted.”
- Other cases of compressive asphyxia have occurred during overcrowded concerts and sporting events.
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The body of Harley Dilly, a 14-year-old boy who had been missing since the morning of December 20, was finally found inside the chimney of a house near his family’s home in Ohio.
After nearly a month of searching homes in the area, police came to the double-locked home on 507 Fulton Street, which is used as a vacation home. They first found Harley’s glasses and coat next to a brick chimney, and then peered inside the chimney to find his body.
The Ottawa County Coroner’s Office say Harley died from “compressive asphyxia,” which is what happens when breathing is prevented by external pressure on the body, according to a study from the The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology.
According to the police, the death was an accident, NBC News reported. They think Harley climbed an antenna tower to the roof and then climbed into the 9-by-13-inch chimney, where he got stuck.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted. The family has closure, and that’s the best I can sum it up,” Port Clinton Police Chief Robert Hickman said at an emotional press conference. The owner of the home, Jim Schmitz, said “our entire family was just devastated at the news to hear what happened.”
“R.I.H. Harley Dilly and fly high,” Harley’s 26-year-old sister Ashlyn wrote on Facebook. She added seven emojis of a crying face.
Compressive asphyxia can happen during car repairs and at overcrowded concerts
Compressive asphyxia is what occurs when the lungs cannot properly contract and expand to breathe. This can happen when someone is underneath a car repairing it, and the car falls down onto them. It can also happen at overcrowded concerts where there is not enough room for concertgoers to breathe.
Compressive asphyxia can also occur while co-sleeping, when a parent rolls over onto a smaller child while sharing a bed.
Prominent examples of multiple cases of the deadly condition include the 1979 The Who concert, where 11 people died after being crammed like “herds of cattle,” and at the 1971 Ibrox disaster, in which 66 sports fans died of overcrowding in Scotland.
One study in Medico-Legal Journal explored how someone at the bottom of a human pyramid formation for a “Dahi Handi” festival died, calling the situation “very rare.” Another person died after being trapped upright between “two parallel bridges undergoing construction,” a situation study authors also considered “very rare” and the only known such case.
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