Apr 15, 2018, 2:04 AM ET

911 operator suspended following teen's suffocation death in van will return to work

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The 911 operator who was placed on administrative leave following the death of an Ohio teen in a freak accident in which he was crushed to death in his van will return to work this week.

Cincinnati police spokesperson Tiffaney Hardy confirmed to ABC News that the operator will be back at work on Wednesday. The dispatcher was identified as Amber Smith.

Kyle Plush, 16, died on April 10 after he suffocated in the back seat of his Honda Odyssey minivan, according to police. His death was ruled as asphyxia due to chest compression after he was "trapped in the third-row bench seat,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said.

Kyle Plush, 16, died from asphyxia due to chest compression.Play
Trapped teen's mysterious van death: What we know

Plush made two 911 calls while trapped in the van. The first came at about 3:14 p.m. on Tuesday, when Plush said, "Help! I'm stuck in my van. ... I need help!"

An operator repeatedly asked Plush where he was, but the teen could not hear the dispatcher and wasn't able to answer the operator's questions, police said. According to the audio recordings of the 911 calls it appears as though Plush was using Siri, Apple's voice command system, to make the calls.

Police were dispatched to Seven Hills High School, where the teen said he was located, but authorities could not find him.

PHOTO: Kyle Plush, 16, a sophomore at Seven Hills School made at least two 911 calls as he was being crushed to death in his van in the school parking lot in Cincinnati, April 10, 2018. Cincinatti.com/USA TODAY Network
Kyle Plush, 16, a sophomore at Seven Hills School made at least two 911 calls as he was being crushed to death in his van in the school parking lot in Cincinnati, April 10, 2018.

Plush called 911 again at 3:35 p.m. and Smith answered.

"I'm trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the ... parking lot of Seven Hills," Plush told 911, referring to his high school. "This is not a joke."

Information from the second 911 call was never relayed to police on the scene, authorities said earlier this week.

According to documents from an internal review obtained by Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO, Smith said she couldn't hear him.

PHOTO: Kyle Plush, 16, a sophomore at Seven Hills School made at least two 911 calls as he was being crushed to death in his van in the school parking lot in Cincinnati, April 10, 2018. Cincinatti.com/USA TODAY Network
Kyle Plush, 16, a sophomore at Seven Hills School made at least two 911 calls as he was being crushed to death in his van in the school parking lot in Cincinnati, April 10, 2018.

Smith's supervisors called the fact that police were not radioed again "unacceptable," according to the documents obtained by WCPO. The documents also note the 911 operator was having computer problems at the time of the call and her screen had frozen.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the department still planned on doing a full investigation into the incident.

"We have had many requests from members of the media to talk about what happened to Kyle and what may happen next," Kyle's parents, Ron and Jill Plush, said in a statement Friday night. "We respect the media's need for information and we thank them for continuing to ask questions about what happened to Kyle, as we also have questions and want answers."

ABC News' Amanda Maile contributed to this report.

News - 911 operator suspended following teen's suffocation death in van will return to work

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  • I.S.

    These 911 operators are the same uneducated clowns that work at TSA. They have god complexes and this mixed with the fact that none of them went to college is a recipe for disaster. All their "training" goes out the window the second someone is upset or unclear and they just go back to Instagram or Facebook on their phones. You can tell this mouth breather is absolutely useless and is simply being protected by her union. She should be canned immediately and held accountable for this boy's death.

  • Hanna68

    Despite retro-active reporting of a "computer glitch," I would think the folks who set up the 911 system would find a a way to prevent or at least immediately get around a "computer glitch," Any 911 operators out there who can clarify how the system is set up? If, as I suspect, this is a smokescreen excuse, I'd like to know what really happened, so this type of death won't happen again.

  • Thomas

    At a minimum, this individual should not be allowed to continue to be a dispatcher.

  • Abuck50

    The police union strikes again. You can't fire these people even if they shot someone on 5th avenue.

  • TAda

    Please sue these monsters. She is full of it.

  • Dicazi

    From all I've read, Cincy has had major problems with its 911 operation for a long time.
    The dispatchers name should not have been released unless and until she was charged with a crime.
    But no way should she be back at work! She should have relayed the 2nd call info to the officers on scene and let them decide on the validity.
    I certainly wouldn't want her handling my call.

  • DemChildrenSay

    Hello people! This is not the Operator's fault! This is all because the iPhone does not automatically use speakerphone from a Siri voice-call. This death happened because of iPhone default settings. Kid was trapped in the back of the van. His phone was in the front of the mini-van. He said, "Siri, call 911." Siri said, "Calling 911." The BIG problem is that the iPhone does not default to speakphone from a Voice-call. So the operator is on line saying, "911, what's the emergency?." The kid can't hear that because the phone is not on speaker at its at the front of the van. So the operator hears the poor kid screaming for help, but the operator's questions, like "Tell me where you are, etc." all go answered. If any lawyer takes this case, Apple need to change its programming. If someone using voice to call, it should default to speaker-phone.

  • xtch3

    There is really a good illustration explanation of what happened, but sadly we can't post full links here. I'm going to go as far as I can with this one because it's really excellent.

    honda-minivan-seven-hills-teens-death-may-have-been-subject-national-recall/510074002/

    (color block, right click, search google)

    Do google search and watch the little animated clip.

  • Realpshep

    Put her on permanent coffee duty. Keep her away from the phones

  • Marly Duran

    I still don't get how he died. He was trapped in his van... Ok, what killed him?

  • xtch3

    I don't believe her for a nano second. She thought it was a prank and just dismissed it.

  • The Terminator

    I think if I lived in Cincinnati and had to call 911 I would first ask, "Is this Amber Smith?" If so, I would ask to forward this call to another operator or I would hang up and call back."

    .

  • Dewey

    both the operator and the responding officers failed.
    The officers should have radioed dispatch requesting more info once they got on scene

  • The Terminator

    My first post here I typed when I got up to use the bathroom. So I was a little fast. Wanted to get back to bed.

    She says she didn't hear the call because the computer froze.

    This is I think the 3rd story that I know of about this event and she waited to now to speak up about the computer failure? You would think that would have been in the first story. COMPUTER GLITCH PREVENTED 911 CALL. That would have been her first line of defense. I can understand it being recorded even if she couldn't hear it.

    I don't like being speculative. But, the timing is way off. To me it sounds like a cover up to lessen the possible lawsuits.

    I don't know. It just doesn't smell right to me. The timing of this sounds way off. That would have been said in the first or second story.

    If you were that operator when asked, "How did you handle that call?" the answer would be, "What call? I answered and no one was there." or "I never got the call." adding to both answers, "My computer froze during my shift. Could the call come in at that point?"

    The timing is way off.

    .

  • Pingy

    I don't see how this operator would even want to go back to work after her inaction resulted in the death of this young man.

  • GloryBell

    Don't tell me she is going back to work!! Her job performance allowed a death- after repeated calls from the victim!! NO excuse good enough, here!

  • The Terminator

    Something is wrong here. They have a recording of the 2nd 911 call and they have printed the transcript of the call yet she couldn't hear it. I am going to assume that the computer freeze up prevented her from hearing it.

    .