GPS leads deputies to rescue girl from father

GPS leads deputies to rescue girl from father


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WEST MOUNTAIN – It started with a fight over a board game.

Before she knew it, a 17-year-old girl said her drunken father had pointed a loaded rifle at her.

Utah County Sheriff’s deputies located the teen and her father after she repeatedly called 911. Although she didn't speak with dispatchers, the calls activated GPS technology, allowing deputies to rescue her from her father’s trailer near West Mountain at Utah Lake.

The girl’s cellphone was not activated with a provider.

“Most cellphones that are disabled, that don’t have an active account, you can still make an emergency call on it,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.

“That’s what this gal did.”

More and more Cannon said, deputies are able to “ping” cellphones to determine the location of their owners.

“We’ve used that a lot over the years to help find people who are at risk for harm and to track them down,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of positive outcomes because of that.”

Without the technology, Cannon says the outcome could have been much worse.

Deputies arrested John Valenzuela, 68, at his trailer near West Mountain off of Utah Lake.

He was booked into Utah County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault, criminal mischief, intoxication, and unlawful detention over claims he held the girl against her will.

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Peter Samore

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