Kyle Plush, a 16-year-old Ohio boy, died after being trapped by a seat in his Honda Odyssey minivan in a school parking lot despite two desperate 911 calls asking police to save him.
The death of the teenager from Anderson Township has led to a dispatcher, Amber Smith, being placed on administrative leave and outrage against authorities. Kyle was eventually found stuck under the van’s seats. The coroner’s report says that Plush died from “asphyxia due to chest compression and the manner of death is accidental.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Plush Begged 911 Operators to Get Him Help, Saying ‘Tell My Mom That I Love Her if I Die’
A dying Plush tried valiantly to get authorities to help him. He placed two 911 calls to police, telling them he was stuck inside the van. You can listen to the calls above. In the first call, Plush says, “I’m stuck in my van…help, I need help.” He repeats several times, “help, help.”
The teenager “was trapped in the third row bench seat,” CNN reported, quoting a prosecutor, adding that one 911 caller said, when Plush was eventually found, that “he was stuck, looks like he was turned over in the seat, he’s stuck there. He’s been there for a while.”
According to The Washington Post, the boy managed to use a “an automated assistant on his smartphone to make the call Tuesday (April 10, 2018) outside Seven Hills School in Cincinnati.” The Associated Press reported that the van was a 2004 model and quoted Honda’s spokesman as saying, “Honda does not have any specific information from which to definitively determine what occurred in this incident.”
“Where are you?” the dispatcher inquires in the 911 call.
“Help, Help. I’m stuck in my van outside the seven hills (unintelligible) parking lot,” Plush tells the dispatcher. “Send help. I’m going to die here.”
In a second 911 call, he tried again. “I probably don’t have much time left so tell my mom that I love her if I die,” the boy says in the 911 call. “This is not a joke, this is not a joke. I‘m trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the sophomore parking lot of Seven Hills (unintelligible). Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.”
2. Plush’s Family Found Him Dead in the Van Hours After the Boy Called Police
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac gave a press conference in which he called the death an “extremely tragic incident.” On Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at about 3:14 p.m., a 911 call came in to police from a boy saying he was “stuck inside a van” in the Seven Hills parking lot. He “repeatedly yelled for help,” the police said, and loud noises and banging could be heard.
The chief said that there was no exchange in dialogue between the call taker and the individual “we now know as Kyle Plush.” The line disconnected after more than 2 minutes. Less than a minute later, the call taker attempted to reach the caller but received a voicemail message on the call back. At 3:21 p.m, the incident was broadcast as an unknown trouble run and squads were dispatched to the location. At 3:26 p.m., a two-person squad car arrived on the scene and attempted to locate the caller or anyone who appeared in distress. The officers closed the incident after finding no one.
At 3:35 p.m., Plush made a second 911 call. A different call taker answered the call. He stated again that he was trapped in the vehicle. During the second call, he provided specific details about the make, model and color of the vehicle that were not provided in the initial 911 call. “The information in this second call was not relayed to the officers who were still on the scene at the time,” the police chief said.
A Hamilton County sheriff’s deputy was working a traffic detail at the school and called 911 and said that he had checked a van in the parking lot but did not find anything after learning about the original call from the responding officers. He requested additional information that was available for a secondary check. At about 8 p.m., the Plush family was contacted by a class mate of their son who said they had seen the teenager heading toward the family van. The classmate said Kyle did not show up for his scheduled tennis match. The family began to check the location using an app on his cell phone. It showed his phone was in the area of the Seven Hills school. The family contacted authorities.
The family responded to the parking lot and located the unlocked van, and Kyle was located inside the vehicle, not breathing and unresponsive, according to the police chief. The police chief said that he had launched a comprehensive investigation into what had occurred. The dispatcher who received the second call is the one who was placed on administrative leave.
The police chief said that police had not done a formal interview with the dispatcher. “This young man was calling out for help. We were not able to get that information to officers at the scene, and we need to find out why,” the police chief said. Kyle was dead at the scene.
However, Cincinnati.com is now reporting that the dispatcher, Amber Smith, “told her supervisors that she couldn’t hear Kyle during that call” but “police and the city’s 911 service provider could find nothing wrong with the phone system.”
3. Plush Was Remembered as a Young Man of ‘Keen Intelligence’
In a statement, Plush’s school remembered him as “a young man of keen intelligence, good humor, and great courage, and this whole community feels this loss very deeply.”
Barry Bates, a 9th grader at the school Plush attended, also remembered the teen fondly. Bates told Cincinnati.com that Plush was “amazing. He was great…that kid was always smiling no matter what. He always made the mood better. Always made people happy. He was always smiling. ”
The boy’s obituary requests memorials be made to the Ronald McDonald house. It says that Kyle Jacob Plush was the “loving son of Ron and Jill Plush (nee Zehren) devoted brother of Alli Plush, dear grandson of Joe and Judy Zehren, the late Robert and Gloria Plush, fond nephew of John and Linda Zehren, Dave and Jodi Schwind, Robert Plush, Gloria and Mark Starwalt, also survived by several cousins.”
He died on April 10, 2018 at the age of 16 years and lived in Anderson Twp., Ohio. “Mass of Christian Burial at St. Rose Church 2501 Riverside Dr. on Mon. April 16, at 9:30 AM,” the obituary reads.
4. Plush’s Principal Remembered His Gentle Spirit
The school community has come together to remember Kyle Plush. Principal Patty Normile told WLWT-TV that “Kyle Plush was full of positive energy and despite sporting a back brace, an unstoppable athlete who loved soccer, tennis and swimming.”
“Kyle’s gentle spirit made it a joy for others to be around him; we lovingly remember Kyle as a creative, vibrant and kind young man,” she said to the television station.
A teacher told WLWT that Kyle was “independent, determined and thoughtful.”
5. Angry People Filled the Cincinnati Police Department’s Facebook Page With Comments
Cincinnati police, two days before Plush died, posted a thank you to dispatchers on the police Facebook page. Members of the public have filled the comment thread, chastising police for their handling of Plush’s calls. “You just ignored a caller and they died because of your direct actions? Why would you post this? How about reform?” wrote one person.
“Where were the heros (sic) when (Kyle) Jacob Plush called for help several times, dying as he plead for his life? You thought it was a prank? You couldn’t be bothered to find the vehicle he described to you? But somehow others had no problem finding him after it was too late,” wrote another. “Your cynicism cost a young boy pleading for his life everything. How could you? Your inaction is disgraceful as it is disturbing. If you’re so blind to someone’s obvious cries for help that you let them die, you goad them, you ignore them!!”