Cincinnati teen's tragic death puts spotlight on 911 call responses

When seconds matter and lives are on the line, the way 911 dispatchers do their jobs is crucial.

In the aftermath of emergencies, dispatchers get plenty of scrutiny for how they handle the heat-of-the-moment calls.

The dispatcher who received Kyle Plush’s second 911 call before he died in the back of a 2004 Honda Odyssey Tuesday has been suspended, according to numerous media reports.

Plush was stuck in a van parked in the lot at Seven Hills High School in Cincinnati, despite two calls to 911 pleading for help.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac has been quoted as saying something went “terribly wrong” in the emergency response to Plush’s calls.

Plush was evidently reaching in to the back of his van to get his tennis gear when the third-row seat of the Odyssey flipped back, pinning him upside down.

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“This young man was crying out for help, we weren’t able to get the information to the officers at the scene and we need to find out why,” WXIX quoted Issac as saying.

Other 911 calls and their responses have been noteworthy in Dayton and Ohio in recent years.

John Crawford III

Ronald Ritchie was shopping at the Beavercreek Walmart store in August 2014 when he called 911 to report that a man — Fairfield resident John Crawford III — was walking around the store carrying what appeared to be a rifle.

At one point in the call, Ritchie told the dispatcher that it appeared that the man was “loading” the rifle.

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The dispatcher told responding officers Crawford was loading the gun with “bullets,” even though Ritchie had never used that word.

Two Beavercreek officers responded to the store as a result of Ritchie’s call. They said Crawford failed to immediately obey commands, and one of the officers shot Crawford dead.

Crawford, 22, was carrying a Crosman MK-177 pellet gun, which special prosecuting attorney Mark Piepmeier later wrote “is nearly identical to a Windham SRC Carbine 223 AR.”

Ritchie was the only person at the store to call 911 with concerns about Crawford. Shopper Angela Williams, 37, suffered a heart attack while rushing out of the store in the melee after the shots.

In April 2016, the prosecutor decided no charges would be filed against Ritchie.

Piepmeier said in a finding that there is no reason to believe that Ritchie, who had briefly served in the Marine Corps, knowingly made a false report.

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“I don’t find any evidence that Mr. Ritchie knew any of the information he was providing was false,” Piepmeier wrote.

One of the responding Beavercreek officers was cleared by a Greene County special grand jury in September 2014, and a federal investigation ended in 2017 without criminal charges.

Tamir Rice

In November 2014, Cleveland police officers responded to a 911 call reporting a young man “with a pistol.”

“There is a guy with a pistol,” the caller said, quoted by the Los Angeles Times and other media. “It’s probably fake, but he’s pointing it at everybody.”

The officers found Rice, 12, alone at a gazebo outside a recreation center. They got out of their car and, seconds later, fired shots. Tamir died.

“His gun turned out to be a toy,” the Times said.

MORE911 dispatcher in Crawford shooting knew she erred saying 'bullets'

However, the emergency dispatcher failed to relay to the officers that the caller added that the individual could be a juvenile and the gun might be a “fake,” NBC News and others later reported.

The dispatcher was suspended for eight days for that omission.

Charles Romine

Charles Romine — a 71-year-old Dayton man with visual impairments — called 911 on a Monday afternoon in September 2017. He was tired, thirsty, alone and confused about where he was.

Two days later, the Dayton man’s body was found in Wolf Creek.

According to a timeline constructed after Romine’s death, he called 911 just after 2:20 p.m. Sept. 18. He again called 911 at 2:20 a.m. Sept. 20.

A dispatchers’ call log was closed after police could not find Romine and he didn’t answer dispatchers’ calls.

Then Romine’s body was found in Wolf Creek about 4:30 p.m. Sept. 20.

Romine — who relatives said had vision problems but was a regular on RTA buses — told dispatchers in his first 911 call, a nearly 8-minute conversation, that he hadn’t drank water in hours. He tried to relay where he was, unsuccessfully.

“I need a rescue,” Romine told a dispatcher, according to audio obtained by WHIO-TV. “I’ve been on these rocks for, like, three hours.”

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