By Kathleen Joyce, ,
Published April 14, 2018
The teenager tragically killed Tuesday after he was crushed to death by a minivan seat was remembered by his family as being “funny, smart and positive," while the 911 dispatcher who answered the boy's call was set to return to work next week after being placed on leave.
Kyle Plush, 16, of Cincinnati, Ohio, called 911 at least twice Tuesday afternoon while he was strapped in the 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan outside Seven Hills School in Madisonville. The teenager was found unresponsive in the minivan hours later by a family member.
Plush’s parents, Ron and Jill, released a statement regarding their son Friday night. The parents called him “unforgettable” and asked for privacy as they said their goodbyes to the teen.
“We would like to share a few words about our remarkable son. Kyle embraced life with a passion far beyond his years,” the family said. “We thank God for sharing him with us for over 16 years but we so desperately wish he was here today.”
They added: “Anyone who ever encountered Kyle knows he lit up a room with his larger than life, funny, smart and positive personality with inclusion of all. His friends know him as a leader with incredible potential that kept them laughing with his wit and innovative mind. He is unforgettable and we, as a family, will make sure he is never forgotten.”
During Plush’s first phone call to 911, he told the dispatcher to tell his mom he loved her if he died.
“I’m going to die here,” the teenager told the dispatcher. “I probably don’t have much time left. Tell my mom I love her if I die.”
Plush suffocated after he became trapped under the third-row seat that flipped and pinned him while he was trying to reach his tennis equipment. The teenager told 911 operators where he was located but authorities were not able to find him. Police said Amber Smith, the 911 operator who answered Plush’s second call, failed to relay information to the additional officers who were at the scene.
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.”
Smith has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. She has been a 911 operator for four years. FOX 19 Now reported Smith was set to return from administrative leave next week. She told supervisors her computer froze and she was unable to put information into the system. She also said she could not hear Plush during the phone call, according to reports.
Police are investigating why it so long for somebody to find the teen despite Plush giving officials a detailed location of the van.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said "something went terribly wrong" during the call.
“This young man was crying out for help, we weren't able to get the information to the officers at the scene and we need to find out why,” Isaac said.
Cincinnati.com reported the 911 center has had problems regarding staffing, training and technology. 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.
Fox News' Madeline Fish contributed to this report.