Death of student, 16, trapped in van spurs action in Ohio city

CINCINNATI — While it's too late for Kyle Plush, the 16-year-old boy's death after being trapped in a minivan is getting intense attention and bringing change.

Cincinnati's acting city manager says he'll present an "action plan" to city council members Monday for improving the emergency center while police are expected to wrap up their internal investigation into the failed response to the teen's two 911 calls for help April 10 while parked near his school.

The acting city manager, Patrick Duhaney, succeeds a city manager, Harry Black, who resigned April 21 after a councilman dissatisfied with his response to 911 center issues said he would provide the swing vote to fire him as the mayor wanted to do, ending a weekslong political standoff at City Hall. Duhaney said immediately that he would make the emergency center high priority.

"I want to assure the public that we'll do everything ... to improve the 911 system," said Mayor John Cranley.

Council last week approved $454,000 for more staffing, upgrading technology and other improvements. The center has been plagued for years with staffing, workplace and operational problems, which have been spotlighted since Plush's death.

The city council held a five-hour special meeting April 17, interrupted near the end when members of Plush's family, including his father Ron, stormed out after councilman Wendell Young said "there's no amount of money that's going to make you happy." Kyle's uncle shouted that the suggestion the family was there for money was "the most insensitive thing I've ever heard." Young apologized publicly the next day.

Cranley and other city officials had earlier offered apologies to the family for the failure to save Kyle. The youth's father found his body nearly six hours after he first called 911 to report he was trapped and was "going to die here" without rescue. He was trapped by a rear seat and the coroner ruled he died from asphyxiation from chest compression.

Cincinnati police have been investigating what went wrong, and are expected to release results this week.

They recently released three-minute body camera video from a two-officer team driving through the school's parking lot without getting out of their cruiser. Police had said earlier said the officers searched 11 minutes, but didn't have the vehicle description, a gold Honda Odyssey, that Kyle made in his second call.

City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said at a recent council meeting that Kyle's father was hoping the emergency response problems will be fixed.

"He thinks this might be Kyle's way of saving more lives into the future," said Sittenfeld.