Man who spotted missing toddler, 911 operator recall rescue

Trumbull County Dispatcher Paula Rea took Rainn Peterson 9-1-1 call.


WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – It was one 9-1-1 call that turned a possibly tragic story into one with a happy ending.

Victor Sutton is the man who found missing toddler Rainn Peterson just before 6:30 p.m. Sunday — less than mile away from her great-grandparents home.

Rainn was reported missing by her great-grandparents around 6:30 p.m. Friday, and investigators were unable to locate the girl after combing the area with tracking dogs, on horseback and through the use of thermal imaging from a helicopter overheard.

Sutton recalled the moment that he spotted Rainn.

“I could see her hair, and then obviously, she wasn’t moving, so I thought this is the worst-case scenario,” he said.

But, Sutton yelled the child’s name and quickly discovered that she was only sleeping.

“She shook, lifted her head, she turned and she look at me and sat up. So I went from literally devastation to euphoria in three seconds,” he said.

Sutton quickly called 9-1-1 for help. Paula Rea is the person who answered that call.

“You’re OK sweetheart. I swear you are going to be OK,” Sutton can be heard saying on the 9-1-1 tape.

“Is she… Is that her I hear?” Rea asked.

“She just cried,” Sutton responded.

“OK, I hear her. I just got goose bumps,” Rea said.

“Oh my God, me too. I could not give up on this kid. Thank God,” Sutton said on the tape.

Victor Sutton
Victor Sutton

Rea spoke with WKBN about the moment she took the 9-1-1 call and realized that Rainn had been found.

“It was body-wide goosebumps,” she said. “I could feel the hair on the back of my head just stand up a little bit.”

Rea quickly let others at the Trumbull County 9-1-1 Dispatch Center know of the good news.

“I was just thrilled to be the one to pick up the phone,” she said.

Dispatcher Tiffany Alberini was one of the people who helped get police to where Peterson was found.

“The call came in, and everybody just got quiet for a second,” she said. “You hear him say, ‘I got the little girl.'”

The call was very special for Alberini, because she is still in training at the Trumbull County 9-1-1 Dispatch Center. She said it is sure to be a memorable experience in her career.

“It’s not something I’ll forget anytime soon,” she said.

Alberini said Sutton’s quick actions are heroic.

“The gentleman who found her, he’s a hero,” she said.

But Sutton remained modest.

“I’m no saint, but it just is nice to do well for other people,” he said.

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