© 2023 Cincinnati Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Plush Family Tells City Officials: "This Can't Happen To Another Family"

kyle plush
Courtesy of Plush Family

Cincinnati officials said Tuesday a 911 dispatcher had the GPS location within 5 to 10 feet of where a teenager was later found dead after getting trapped in his van in a school parking lot last month.

That was an answer to one of 33 questions asked by the family of 16-year-old Kyle Plush following his death April 10, and the city's response to his two 911 calls seeking emergency help. Ron and Jill Plush attended the meeting. It was the first time his mother has been to City Hall for such a hearing.

"The call attendant had the approximate GPS location by longitude and latitude of Kyle's phone," the city report said. "The Federal Communications Commission requires that wireless carriers provide this information within an accuracy with 150 meters."

The Emergency Communications Center provided an address to police officers responding to the call but did not send GPS coordinates.

In response, the city is working to update software and improve mapping capabilities in police vehicles so officers have a more detailed map. Another software upgrade will allow dispatchers to have the GPS location of all police vehicles so operators can provide driving directions to the exact location of a 911 caller.

The city report found the first call taker did not hear the phrases "I'm going to die here" and "I'm in need of desperate help." Another 911 operator reviewed the first call and did hear those phrases on an audio playback. The family would like to know why the call wasn't updated to include that information after the review by the 911 operator.

The report said there is no standard protocol dictating how an officer should respond to someone who is stuck in a vehicle.

"Standard operating procedures will be revised and officers will be trained that if they are not able to locate the caller they will request additional GPS coordinates from the dispatcher in order to get more accurate information on the location of the caller," the report said.

The report also noted issues with the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system freezing during the Plush incident.

The city is reviewing the "unknown trouble" call code. It will be re-evaluated to consider adding additional subcategories that "more specifically relate to this incident."

The Plush family got the report on Saturday and had about a dozen additional questions.

"This can't happen to another family," Ron Plush said. "We need to continue to identify all the failures that day and work toward solutions. Will it be easy? No. Will it be quick? No. We are 100 percent committed to the effort of improving our emergency response process."

Plush said he listened to Kyle's two 911 calls Tuesday morning for the first time since the incident to hear what was said.

As each day goes by, the city is exposed to another such incident and "we can't let that happen," he said.

Mayor John Cranley said the report, to him, lists three things that were done wrong.

"The call taker was wrong, the dispatch was wrong, and the cops were wrong," Cranley said. "I don't think we should sugarcoat it."

Cranley said the first call taker or a supervisor should have listened to the audio from the first call again; fire and EMS should have been dispatched because of the nature of the call; and police officers should have gotten out of their vehicle and checked vans in the parking lot.

The Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday approved a motion asking for an independent review of the city's response to the Plush incident. The city has contacted three firms about doing such a review, a final proposal to launch that probe could come June 11. The committee is expected to hear another presentation on the issue then as well.

Read the full report below. 

Plush Report 5-29-18 by WVXU News on Scribd

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.