Riverside County sheriff's dispatcher credited with saving kidnap victim's life after 911 call, text

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023
IE sheriff's dispatcher credited with saving kidnap victim's life
A Riverside County Sheriff's Department dispatcher is being hailed as a hero after taking quick actions to help rescue a woman who had been kidnapped.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside County Sheriff's Department dispatcher Meghan Gonzalez has been on the job for four years, handling all kinds of calls for help. The 911 call she received on May 2 will be one she'll never forget.

"Nobody said anything, and so I had a really weird gut feeling about it," said Gonzalez.

She listened for three minutes, taking in the sounds and trying to get the caller to respond to her question.

"I said, 'If you have an emergency but cannot hear me, press a button.' I could hear a guy in the background, although I couldn't make out what he said. Just, something felt off about it and she ended hanging up as soon as I said that."

Gonzalez initiated the text-from-911 feature within RapidDeploy's Radius Mapping system, which allowed her to identify the caller's location and communicate via text message.

The response Gonzalez received back from her changed everything.

"It said that she had been bitten, beaten, and she was naked in the back of a trunk," recalled Gonzalez.

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It was a kidnapping in progress. The victim was able to text that she had been taken by the suspect in Blythe, that she had a restraining order against him but didn't know where she was. Gonzalez did know her location -- by using GPS to pinpoint the victim's cellphone signal, she was able to locate the victim within 7 meters of the nearest cellular tower.

But that's not all. Before the caller had hung up, Gonzalez recognized a familiar sound.

"On the open line, I could hear a vehicle door open and to me I thought it was an Explorer. Turns out it's the sound for all Ford vehicles -- when you leave the door open, it makes a specific sound," she said.

Utilizing that piece of information, deputies were able to hone in on the suspect's car parked at a liquor store in Moreno Valley. Deputies found the victim inside the trunk of the vehicle and arrested her kidnapper, authorities said.

Gonzalez is credited with saving the victim's life. Earlier this month, Gonzalez was recognized with the Rapid Deploy "Superstar" award which honors those who have made a lifesaving impact and use of the Rapid Deploy technology.

"It was just that gut feeling that made me generate that call for service," she said.