The 911 call taker placed on leave after failing to help save the Ohio boy crushed to death in his van has been pictured for the first time as it emerges she was previously commended for good work.
Amber Smith has been identified as the 911 call dispatcher who allegedly flubbed the desperate call from 16-year-old Kyle Plush, as he was being crushed to death in his minivan.
Smith was previously pictured in a feature by Local 12 for her handling of a young girl who was with her overdosed parents in a van, and was able to keep her calm over 911 while using GPS technology to pinpoint her whereabouts.
Local 12 has confirmed Smith is the same woman who handled both 911 cases.
On Tuesday, Plush used Siri from his iPhone to call 911 from his crushed position, however the call dropped once, and the second time he called back it was dispatcher Smith who answered. Smith appeared to have had a difficult time hearing him, according to Cincinnati’s police chief on Thursday.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac said they have gone over the timeline, and had pieced together Plush’s calls to 911 and police records.
Additionally Smith says she tried to document the call when it came in but her computer screen had frozen, preventing her from entering information immediately, a preliminary review found.
Scroll for video
Amber Smith, the 911 call taker who has been placed on administrative leave was identified Friday as the person who did not follow through on the information she received when Kyle Plush, 16, had called in a second time to tell her he was being crushed to death
Chief Isaac said he does not know why Smith didn’t convey the information Plush provided her to officers on the scene. He said it may have been caused by equipment issues or human error
Jill Plush, his sister, Kyle, and father Ron Plush pose in an undated photo. Kyle told the 911 operator Amber Smith to tell his mother he loves her before he died
Jill Plush, with Kyle Plush, his sister and a relative in an undated photo at what appears to be a birthday celebration
‘Apparently there was some trouble on the line. She did press the tone to indicate she’s having trouble on the line to that could possibly be a call received from a hearing impaired person but again those are things that have been conveyed preliminarily,’ Chief Isaac said.
Kyle became crushed when the third row seat of his family’s Honda Odyssey minivan while reaching over the seat to retrieve tennis gear.
Plush called 911 using Siri on his iPhone, according to what he said on the first 911 call at 3:16pm. Plush says he can not hear the 911 call taker, but he needs help and is trapped in his van. The call lasted three minutes before it disconnects.
At 3:23pm, 911 dispatches two officers to the area of Seven Hills School after using GPS technology to narrow down Plush’s location.
Now it is 3:35pm and Plush calls 911 a second time. Amber Smith at the 911 center takes the call, Plush gave her a description of the van, and his location, but a loud noise sounds during the call.
‘This is not a joke,’ the teen told Smith. ‘I’m almost dead.’ ‘I probably don’t have much time left, so tell my mom I love her if I die,’ he added during the call.
Chief Isaac said Smith did not pass along the information about the call.
‘Apparently there was some trouble on the line. She did press the tone to indicate she’s having trouble on the line to that could possibly be a call received from a hearing impaired person but again those are things that have been conveyed preliminarily,’ Chief Isaacadded.
Now at 3:37pm, officers with the Cincinnati police officers say over radio they believe the call was a prank and they close out the call for service.
There is one final check of the area at 3:44pm, when a Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy who was working an off-duty traffic detail calls the communication center and asks a call taker for information about the van. He also tried to locate the van and stated he looked in one van.
Deputy Doug Allen says on the call: ‘I was in there I just looked in a van. I didn’t see anybody in it. There was only one van by the thrift store… I’m down in the lower lot behind the thrift store.’
It remains unclear whether he had looked into Plush’s van or another vehicle.
His parents recieve a call that he did not show up for his tennis match from a friend, and they locate the van using an app to locate his iPhone.
The family found him in the van just before 9pm.
Hamilton Co. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said Thursday an administrative investigation was underway, meanwhile Cincinnati police detectives retrieved surveillance video from Seven Hills School Thursday and planned to review it to determine whether it would shed any light on the investigation.
There have been previous issues with this 911 call center, and council members are calling for a full, top down, investigation.
Meanwhile it was revealed earlier this week that Smith had previously complained on Facebook about working overtime at her job as recently as one week ago.
Plush was reaching for his tennis equipment for a match when he became crushed in by the third row seat in his 2004 Honda Odyssey
Amber Smith was placed on administrative leave Thursday, after it was revealed she is the person who failed to tell the officers the make, model or color of the minivan Kyle Plush was trapped inside of, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said during Thursday’s press conference, Cincinnati.com reported
Smith was placed on administrative leave Thursday, after it was revealed she is the person who failed to tell the officers the make, model or color of the minivan Kyle Plush was trapped inside of, Police Chief Eliot Isaac said during Thursday’s press conference.
‘Something went wrong here, and we need to find out why we weren’t able to provide help,’ he said.
Smith has twice taken to Facebook to complain about working overtime – doing so most recently on Friday.
She first vented about the situation in May 2017, writing: ‘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.’
It’s not clear if she was working overtime when Plush called in from the back of his car, slowly being crushed to death.
Plush died of asphyxia due to chest compression after the third-row bench of his 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan flipped on top of him and pinned him beneath on Tuesday night.
Plush died of asphyxia due to chest compressions after the third-row bench of his 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan flipped on top of him and pinned him beneath on Tuesday night. He was parked outside his school in Madisonville, Ohio
Isaac said he does not know why Smith didn’t convey the information Plush provided her to officers on the scene.
He said it may have been caused by equipment issues or human error.
‘This was a horrific tragedy,’ Isaac said.
He explained that when the officers got onto the scene they ‘patrolled the area, attempted to locate the caller, looked for anyone in distress.’
By the time Plush was finally discovered it was too late.
Sources told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday that Plush became trapped when he was leaning towards the back of the Odyssey, trying to get tennis equipment and the third row seat collapsed backward on top of him.
He was flipped into the floor of the cargo area and pinned upside down with the seat on top of his chest.
The Honda Odyssey is equipped with seats that fold down completely into the floor so that large objects like bikes can fit inside the back of the vehicle.
Last year, a recall was issued for models made from 2011 to 2017, after owners complained about second-row seats flipping forward if not properly latched.
Above: A view inside a 2002 Honda Odyssesy, showing the third bench row. This is not the car that which Plush died
Smith has twice taken to Facebook to complain about working over time – doing so most recently on Friday. Pictured are two police at the scene of Plush’s death on Tuesday night
Plush called 911 around 3pm, and a second time later, but he wasn’t found until 9pm. His dad found him
The coroner says the teen was crushed to death by a folding chair in the vehicle (pictured above Tuesday night)
At some point, the boy tried calling again, and this time appeared more desperate, because there were sounds of loud banging and heavy breathing.
‘This is not a joke,’ he said. ‘I am trapped inside a gold Honda Odyssey van in the parking lot of Seven Hills. … Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.’
The lot is searched again, but still no one is found. It later was revealed that the boy was trapped in a car in the school’s overflow parking lot, across the street from the main parking lot, which the deputies did not search.
Later that evening, Plush’s mother, Jill, called police worried when he didn’t come home from school.
‘My son never came home from school,’ the victim’s mother said in released 911 audio. ‘And we thought he was at a tennis match. And he never came home from school.’
Finally, around 9pm, the boy was found by his father, trapped in the third row bench seat. Paramedics that were sent to the scene pronounced him dead.
The coroner later determined his death as accidental ‘asphyxia caused by chest compression’.
Tragic last moments of Kyle Plush’s life
- Kyle Plush becomes trapped in third row seat of Honda Odyssey minivan while reaching to pick up his tennis gear.
- 3.14pm – Plush calls 911 saying he is trapped in his van. He says he can’t hear the dispatcher, Stephanie Magee. ‘Help. I’m stuck in a van outside Seven Hills parking lot,’ Kyle says. ‘I’m gonna die here.’ The call lasts for less than three minutes. He used the Siri function on his phone to call. The operator tries to call him back after the call was cut off.
- 2.23pm – Two officers are dispatched to the Seven Hills School area after using GPS technology to narrow down Plush’s location.
- 3.26pm – Police officers arrive and start looking for the van.
- 3.35pm – Plush calls 911 again and his call is answered by dispatcher Amber Smith. He gives her a description of the van and his location. ‘This is not a joke. This is not a joke. I’m trapped inside a gold Honda Odyssey van,’ he says. ‘I probably don’t have much time left. Tell me mom I love her if I die,’ he adds. The operator said she could not hear him. A loud sound is heard during the call. Smith did not pass along the information about the call.
- 3.37pm – Police officers say in radio transmissions they think the call is a prank and ended their search.
- 3.44pm – Sheriff’s deputy calls the communication center and asks for information about the van. He said he located one but didn’t see anyone in it.
- Shortly before 9pm – Family members find Plush in his van using an app to locate his iPhone.