Deputy involved in Kyle Plush response: I shouldn’t have ignored my gut feeling

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Deputy Douglas Allen was working an off-duty traffic detail at Seven Hills School the day a student died trapped in his van.

That student was Kyle Plush.

Allen says he spoke with the Cincinnati officers who arrived at the scene in response to Plush's original 911 call for help.

"They said, you know, 'We didn't see anything. We looked around, you know, at the vehicles. We didn't see anything,' but at this point, that was all the information that they had it what they showed me -- a woman trapped in a van, a woman trapped in a van," said Allen.

Allen said he called the city's 911 call center to get the phone number of the caller -- he called the number, Plush's number, and got voice mail.

"It sounded like a very young male -- not a 16-year-old like he is," Allen said. "It sounded like a pre-puberty kid."

Allen then called the dispatchers back to tell them he didn't think it was a female.

"It's just gone to voice mail every time I've gotten a call but it says Kyle and it's a kid's phone obviously," Allen said.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac this week presented City Council with a timeline of events the night Kyle Plush died.

"Just looking at the footage and the testimony from the past couple of City Council meetings and there's a lot of issues that need to be -- or questions that need to be -- resolved," said Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel. "But, my heart breaks for what took place and that should never happen in our community."

Isaac showed security camera still shots of Kyle's car in the parking lot. The chief's presentation says Allen called dispatch to see if there was any additional information and when he was told nothing was found by officers, Allen said he would continue checking.

"We're going to keep our eye out here and see if there's any missing, a kid comes up or something, and we'll just go from there," Allen said.

According to the police chief, the deputy was seen checking a white van (Plush's van was a different color) at the other end of the parking lot before going up to the school and asking the Operations Director to listen to Plush's voice mail.

"And I dialed the number again and it went to voice mail. I said does that sound like a young, young child to you and he said, 'Yeah,' he goes, 'But Doug, we're not missing any young kids' -- at this point, we would know," Allen said.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil and the chief investigator concluded that Allen acted within the guidelines of the sheriff's office and procedures.

Monzel said the county's 911 operations has a program called Smart911, technology the city's 911 call center doesn't have. He said with Smart911 each cellphone user provides emergency contact information which is passed along to deputies in the field every time a 911 call is made from that person's phone.

"That could have possibly been something that helped out here where if that information was in that cellphone number, that the 911 operators could have called a parent to find out, 'Hey we got this call from this cellphone, do you know what's going on with that individual?'" Monzel said.

Allen then wondered if there was anything he could have done differently as he left a voice mail on Kyle's phone.

"I said, 'Kyle this is Deputy Allen. Are you not in any kind of trouble? Please, you know, call me.'" Allen said. "I told my wife, there's something not right about this. I explained to her what's going on I said, 'Something's not right here. I feel like some kid's been abducted.'"

Allen said if he had known the phone was still on the property, he would have acted differently.

"I would have never have left," he said. "And I wouldn't have. I ignored my gut."

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