911 dispatcher who answered call from boy crushed by minivan seat complained about job days before incident

The 911 operator who answered a Cincinnati teen’s call before he was crushed to death by a minivan seat Tuesday complained on social media days before the tragedy about having to work overtime.

Amber Smith groused about her job on her personal Facebook page a few times, the most recent being last Friday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Thursday.

In May 2017, Smith wrote a post “venting” about how working overtime makes her and her co-workers “hate our job.”

“I’m always at work and working overtime…all it does [is] make us hate our job and hate the people that are off for months…Just feel like venting. That’s all. Nothing will change,” she wrote.

Kyle Plush, 16, called 911 at least twice Tuesday afternoon while he was strapped in the 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan outside Seven Hills School in Madisonville.

The third-row seat flipped and pinned him while he was trying to reach his tennis equipment. The second call was answered by Smith who has worked as a dispatcher for four years.


Kyle Plush, 16, was crushed to death in the back of his minivan despite giving 911 dispatchers his exact location.

Kyle Plush, 16, was crushed to death in the back of his minivan despite giving 911 dispatchers his exact location. (Fox 19 Now)

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said during a news conference Thursday something "went terribly wrong” during the second 911 call.

"This young man was crying out for help and we were not able to get information to officers on the scene," Isaac said.

Plush was able to tell Smith where he was located during the call but she failed to relay that information to the additional officers who were at the scene, Isaac said. During the call, Plush explained to Smith the call was not a joke.

"I am trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the parking lot of the Seven Hills...Send officers immediately," Plush pleaded. "I’m almost dead.”

Kyle Plush told a 911 dispatcher that he was trapped inside a 2004 Honda Odyssey.

Kyle Plush told a 911 dispatcher that he was trapped inside a 2004 Honda Odyssey. (Fox 19 Now)

Smith was placed on administrative leave as officials investigate the incident.

Plush’s body was found by his father some five hours later. The Hamilton County coroner ruled the death a case of accidental asphyxia due to chest compression, determining there had been no foul play.


Honda said in a statement that it didn’t have any information to immediately explain what had gone wrong.

“Honda has seen media reports regarding the tragic death of a teenager in a 2004 Honda Odyssey in Cincinnati, Ohio,” the company said. “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family during this difficult time. Honda 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.”

Officials are investigating why it took so long for somebody to find the teen despite Plush giving officials a detailed location of the van.

City Manager Harry Black told the Cincinnati Enquirer the city’s 911 center has problems regarding staffing, training and technology.

"When I got here [in 2014], the 911 center was a mess," Black said. "We have spent a significant amount of money on training, facilities, technology and staffing. There have been improvements, but not enough improvements.”

"When you call 911, somebody must always be there to answer the call and to answer the call in the right way," Black added. "There can be no exceptions."

The city’s 911 center has had five directors in the past four years and its budget was cut $400,000 since 2016. Records showed the center needed 17 dispatchers and 15 operators, the paper reported.

Former director, Jeff Butler, wrote a report to Isaac two years ago stating the center “was in trouble” and needed more funding, staffing and better training.

"The entire operation of the Emergency Communications Center has been negatively impacted by management failures," Butler wrote in the memo. He was transferred from his post a year later.

City Councilman Christopher Smitherman said he would recommend the City Council investigate the 911 center following Plush’s death.

"The death of Kyle Plush is horrible & senseless," Smitherman tweeted Thursday. "The city of Cincinnati must do all we can to prevent this from happening again."

Fox News' Gary Gastelu and Madeline Fish contributed to this report.