A heart breaking voicemail of a 14-year old boy to his friend moments before he died after being trapped in a Lockport fire was played in court.
On August 10, 2016, Joe Phillips, and his 13-year old friend whose name has not been released, entered the tire recycling complex in Lockport through a fire escape, authorities said. They walk through darkened rooms and using a lighter, the two ignited papers and watch them burn.
Based on the video obtained The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request on the surviving teen’s phone, one of the boys is heard saying while video shows papers curling into brightening flames.
“Oh, it’s going to spread out. Oh, it’s so cool,” the other boy says.
As the fire spreads quickly, the younger boy ran outside to get some water while Joe used his shirt to tamp down the flames.
Joe was trapped by flames that had gotten out of control during what had been a summer afternoon of mischief inside a vacant building.
In the last moments of Joe’s 14-year life, he called his friend trough his phone, “I’m really stuck, dude,” Phillips shouted into the voicemail of the 13-year-old who’d been with him moments earlier at the tire recycling complex. “I’m (expletive) going to die.”
Then panting, with resignation in his voice, “Sorry, dude. I love you, man,” the call ended. “I never thought I’d die this way.”
Joe’s mother, Ann Phillips cried when her son’s final phone call was played in court this year. She said, “doesn’t surprise her that her son used his final moments to express his love to a friend.”
However, she won’t say what punishment she thinks the surviving teen, who never called 911, deserves. She said she wants to keep her feelings private until after the hearing, which she also attended, holding a picture of her son on her lap.
The surviving teen could be sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile detention facility after pleading guilty to arson and burglary as part of an agreement that erased a charge of criminally negligent homicide in his friend’s death. He has been in and out of the hospital with mental health issues and has tried to harm himself, a probation officer testified.