Kyle Plush, a 16-year-old high schooler, was found dead inside of his 2004 Honda Odessey on the evening of Tuesday, April 10, six hours after calling the police for help. Audio of Plush’s 911 call reveals that he was saying he was stuck in his van and close to death. Plush became trapped under the third-row bench seat of his van as he was reaching for his Tennis gear in the trunk.
Plush, a sophomore student at Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, first called 911 at 3:14 p.m., saying he was trapped in his van in the sophomore parking like at Seven Hills, asking for authorities to send immediate help. Plush was stuck underneath the third-row bench seat of his van when the seat collapsed as he was leaning back to get tennis gear from the trunk. While Plush was not near his phone, he was able to call 911 using Apple’s Siri function. However, because he was so far from his phone, the 911 operator could not hear Plush, therefore failing to get a more accurate description of his location.
A preliminary autopsy report shows he died of asphyxia due to chest compression.
Kyle made his first call to 911 operators shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday from a parking lot at Seven Hills. He was using voice commands to dial 911, because he didn’t have his phone in his hand, said Cincinnati Police Department Lt. Steve Saunders. The first call ends and the dispatcher alerts local law enforcement.
Saunders said there are several parking lots associated with the school. A map on the school’s website shows seven parking lots surrounding the campus. A Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy who was working traffic detail for the school also searched the area. The deputy searched in at least two parking lots near the school. “I looked in a van and I didn’t see anybody in it,” the deputy told dispatchers.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac was asked if the deputy had seen the right van, “we believe that the deputy saw the van a little bit later.” “It was really hard to hear,” the operator told the deputy. “It was really a strange call.” While the search was going on, a 911 operator tried calling Kyle back, but after several rings his voice mail picked up. The search for the van lasted 11 minutes. Officers didn’t find anything in the parking lots near the school, so they closed the incident.
Just two minutes before officers ended their search, Kyle had called 911 again. This time his voice was faint but he gave key information about the type of van he was in – something he hadn’t done during the first call. “This is not a joke. This is not a joke. I’m trapped inside a gold Honda Odyssey van,” he said. Banging can be heard in the background. “I probably don’t have much time left. Tell my Mom I love her, if I die,” Kyle tells the 911 operator. The call lasted more than 2½ minutes. There is no response from the operator on the recording.
Eliot Isaac, the Cincinnati Police Chief, said something went “terribly wrong” in the department’s response to Plush’s 911 calls. Police identified the operator who answered Plush’s second called as Amber Smith, who has since been placed on administrative leave. Police Chief Isaac also called Plush’s death a “horrific tragedy.”
The Daily Mail reports that Smith, who answered the second phone call, has twice posted on Facebook to complain about working overtime. Her most recent work-related Facebook post was on Friday, April 6. In May of 2017, Smith posted to Facebook saying: “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.” At this time, it is not clear if Smith was working overtime when Plush called.
Plush had been attending The Seven Hills School, a private academy in Cincinnati, since sixth grade.