Kyle Plush: Parents of boy who made 911 calls while being crushed to death inside van to sue Cincinnati

A report on Wednesday, December 16, stated that the suit will go to trial despite attempts to dismiss it by the city authorities. 

                            Kyle Plush: Parents of boy who made 911 calls while being crushed to death inside van to sue Cincinnati

The parents of Kyle Plush have been given the go-ahead to file a lawsuit against Cincinnati authorities after their 16-year-old Kyle suffocated in the backseat of a minivan after calling 911 for help. His family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against police officers, 911 dispatchers, and a former city manager in Cincinnati, Ohio. A report on Wednesday, December 16, stated that the suit would go to trial despite attempts to dismiss it by city authorities. 

The Ohio First District Court of Appeals, in its ruling on Wednesday, said that the two officers, two 911 dispatchers, and the ex-city manager, all demonstrated recklessness, neglect, and indifference when Plush dialed 911 for assistance. 

Plush, 16, was found dead — trapped by a folding seat in his minivan — by his father on the night of April 10, 2018. The teenager was located more than six hours after he made two 911 calls for help from his school's parking lot. Plush became trapped in the minivan when he was leaning towards the back of the 2002 Honda Odyssey. He was reportedly trying to retrieve his tennis equipment when the third-row seat of the vehicle collapsed on top of him. The child, who could not reach his iPhone, activated Siri virtual assistant to call 911. As the seats began to crush him, a crying Plush, gasping for air, told the 911 dispatchers that his life was in danger and described his minivan and his location to them.

The first dispatcher, Stephanie Magee, categorized Plush’s situation as “unknown trouble". Although she dispatched two police officers to the scene she did not pass the minivan information to them or that the boy said he might die. Responding officers Brian Brazile and Edel Osborn did not conduct a thorough search of the parking lots, neither did they leave their patrol car.

A desperate Plush made another 911 call and said: "This is not a joke. I am trapped inside a gold Honda Odyssey van in the [inaudible] parking lot of Seven Hills. Send officers immediately. I'm almost dead." The second dispatcher, Amber Smith, answered the 16-year-old's call when the officers were still in the vicinity of the school. Smith, however, activated a teletypewriter connection intended for callers who have difficulty hearing, which made it difficult for her to understand what the teen was saying. Smith, after the call, however, did not record any information on the dispatch system. The officers searched the school parking lot again, however, they could not find anyone trapped in a van.

It was later revealed that he was trapped in the school's overflow parking lot, which was across the street from the main parking lot. The officers did not search that particular section

As hours went by Plush suffocated and died after the minivan seats pushed against his chest. A Hamilton County coroner ruled the cause of death as “asphyxia caused by chest compression". Former Cincinnati City Manager, Harry Black, was allegedly aware of issues at that particular 911 call center, however, he did not address them. The issues reportedly included poor training, understaffing, and undependable technology. A court later concluded in Plush's case that Black could be held accountable for "wanton or reckless actions" because he did not address the issues. 

The court, however, had previously ruled that the boy's parents, Jill and Ron Plush, could not hold the city of Cincinnati responsible because the child's death did not happen on land owned by the city, but on a private parking lot. The court also stated that the boy did not die during the call. 

The Plush family lawyer, Al Gerhardstein, after the latest appeals court ruling, said that the family is "eager to return to the trial court, conclude discovery and try this case. We want the call for justice on behalf of Kyle to be heard by all those in power including the mayor, city manager, and all those on City Council".

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