Muffled phone doomed Ohio teen who died in van
Columbus, Ohio – A 16-year-old Ohio boy who got pinned in the back seat of his minivan and died despite voice-dialing 911 was unable to communicate properly with dispatchers because his phone was in his back pocket, according to an initial police investigation.
Cincinnati police chief Eliot Isaac presented the results of an internal investigation before the City Council’s law and safety committee, providing details of the 911 call and the police response.
Also among the information released Monday:
–The city’s computer assisted-dispatching system experienced difficulties throughout the call.
–Kyle’s phone was in his pocket as he called, and he was using “Siri” caller technology to call 911. Kyle was not able to give back and forth answers to a dispatcher, and the phone disconnected his call.
–The first dispatcher didn’t hear Kyle’s initial comments that he was “going to die here” because he spoke during an automated “What is your emergency” response message.
–Officers initially believed they were searching for an elderly woman locked in her vehicle needing help.
–Officers weren’t given information from the initial 911 call that someone was banging and screaming for help.
Isaac said officers determined they could search a bigger area and see more by staying in their cruiser.
Kyle’s father, Ron Plush, said Monday he still had multiple questions about what happened despite a police investigation into his son’s death.
“I was expecting that by hearing the police report today many of my questions would be answered,” Plush said, appearing at a Cincinnati City Council meeting on the police response to the April 10 death of his son. “This is not the case.”
Plush found the body of his son, Kyle Plush, on April 10 inside the 2004 Honda Odyssey in a parking lot near his school nearly six hours after Kyle’s first 911 call. A coroner says the teen died of asphyxiation from his chest being compressed. It is suspected that the foldaway rear seat flipped over as he reached for tennis gear in the back.
Ron Plush asked authorities why officers weren’t notified that his son was screaming for help in a 911 call, and whether exact GPS coordinates existed for his son’s location and if so, why weren’t those given to police officers.
Ron Plush promised to help improve the city 911 system but also said he would be asking difficult questions along the way.
“Kyle will give us the strength and guidance to get the job done,” Ron Plush said.
Mayor John Cranley told Plush he would receive written responses to every question and called the police report on the case incomplete.
Cranley opened Monday’s meeting by saying the city failed in its response to the 911 call.
“In all cases we can do better, we should do better, we must do better,” Cranley said.
The boy’s aunt, also attending Monday’s meeting, noted that Kyle Plush’s voicemail included his name, and was not a generic message.
If authorities knew the name “Kyle” and that the call was from someone near a school, they had enough to do a proper search minutes after the call was received, said Jodi Schwind.
Council members also questioned why officers didn’t just search all the vans in the parking lot that day.
“Kyle did everything he should have done, everything a mom, a dad, would tell their child to do, he did,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray. “And he was failed horribly.”
The Hamilton County sheriff’s office, which also dispatched a deputy that day, is also investigating, as is the county Prosecutor’s Office.
Council members scheduled a meeting May 29 for police to provide answers to questions raised Monday.
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