Cincinnati police announced Thursday a 911 dispatcher is on administrative leave as they work to find out why help didn’t arrive for a 16-year-old boy trapped and dying inside a car.
Chief Eliot Isaac said Thursday they promised to find out why Kyle Plush called 911 twice, desperately asking for help, even giving the make and model of the vehicle he was trapped in.
The second dispatcher Plush called is the one on leave and is the same dispatcher who has been honored for her work in the past.
“Something went wrong here and we need to find out why we weren’t able to provide that help that we hope we could have,” Isaac said.
Cincinnati police were called to Seven Hills School parking lot. Plush, trapped in a Honda Odyssey, used Siri to call 911. On the call, he was gasping for air and begging for help.
Two District 2 officers checked the lot for a total of 11 minutes. A Hamilton County deputy doubled back.
“Your guys couldn’t find any van with anybody stuck in it, but I just wanted to go and double check one time,” the deputy told dispatchers.
In the second call Plush made to 911, he told dispatchers exactly what car he was in and where it was parked. That information never was relayed to the officers on scene.
“The one thing that we do know is that on that second 911 call, something has gone terribly wrong. This young man was crying out for help,” Smith said.
The dispatcher, who is on administrative leave pending the investigation, was honored for her work just last year. She helped a 9-year-old girl trapped in a car while her parents overdosed on heroin.
The dispatcher pinged the child’s cell phone, and helped first responders locate the scene.
Now investigators want to know why Plush was never found trapped until it was too late.
“I’m not certain at this point if we’re talking about an equipment malfunction or some type of user error possibly, but we’re going to do an investigation to get those answers,” Isaac said.
The 911 dispatcher has been on the job since January of 2016.
Thursday, several council members sent out statements calling for a full investigation of the 911 center after Kyle’s tragic death.
Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman says he plans to have a special hearing Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.at City Hall.
Mayor John Cranley echoed those same concerns in a statement:
Our hearts are heavy this week as we mourn the tragic loss of a child, 16-year old Kyle Plush. I ask that our City join me in praying for the Plush family, Ron, Jill and Ali during this very difficult time.
The events leading up to Kyle’s death are devastating and also raise concerning questions about our City’s emergency 911 system and police response. While it is unclear if there is wrongdoing by the city in this tragedy, we have a profound responsibility to find out. I applaud Police Chief Eliot Isaac for launching an investigation on the specific issues that happened Tuesday. However, separate from this incident, the problems of management, supervision and technology have been reported at the 911 center for years. Based on problems that I have been made aware of, I have repeatedly requested solutions and I have also lobbied the FCC on technology issues. I have been told by the administration that problems were being resolved through Cincy Stat and other efforts. This tragedy may ultimately suggest the problems have not been resolved or that not enough changes have been made.
We owe the Plush family and the public a detailed and comprehensive explanation of everything that has been done, recommendations made and actions taken at the 911 center that could have had any bearing on the practices that may have contributed to this tragedy. We must also be made aware if preventable flaws or failures have worsened emergency situations. As elected officials, we need to be involved directly in evaluating all available information and insist the proper solutions be adopted.
Accordingly, I join Vice Mayor Smitherman in asking that the Administration share all memos, reports and relevant emails surrounding the history of the 911/ECC immediately with me and Council. While the police will investigate the actions of the dispatcher and the police response, we must look at the overall history of the ECC and make sure all necessary recommended improvements are made.
Plush’s visitation is Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at TP White and Sons Funeral Home.