Jaqueline Martinez wore a ton of hardware as she graduated from Valley High School with high honors Monday.
But it was the actions of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sergeant 17 years ago that helped get her there.
"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be graduating with honors,” Martinez said. “I will never be able to thank him enough for that."
She's talking about Randy Sutton, who is now retired and a safety and crime expert for 13 Action News.
On Feb. 25, 1998, the then sergeant was on patrol when he noticed something out of place near the Eureka Casino.
"I wasn't answering a call. I just saw there was a commotion," Sutton said.
That commotion was Jaqueline's parents yelling after their car was shot several times in a drive-by shooting.
One-month-old Jaqueline was shot in the face.
"The bullet had done a lot of damage and she had stopped breathing because of all the tissue and stuff that had gone down into the throat," Sutton said. "So I couldn't wait for the ambulance. I just grabbed the first patrol car, scooped her up and said you've got to get us to the hospital."
For the past 17 years, Sutton has been talking about what happened in the back of a patrol car as he gave baby Jaqueline mouth-to-mouth on the way to University Medical Center.
"About halfway through the drive over here, she started crying, that was a nice sound," Sutton said during an interview shortly after the shooting in 1998.
Now, it is Sutton wiping away a tear as he talks about the night that brought Jaqueline into his life -- this as he attends her high school graduation party and she prepares to attend Nevada State College.
"To watch her grow up has been," Sutton said fighting back tears.
Sutton takes no responsibility for Jaqueline graduating with honors, saying her parents raised her properly.
"One thing I have just been amazed by her as she has grown is her ability to want to help others,” Sutton said. “From the time she was this big she has always had that within her."
Jaqueline obviously doesn't remember meeting Sutton that night.
In fact, the first time she remembers seeing the man who saved her life, he wasn't in uniform.
“He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a button up and he took off his ring and said this ring has been passed down throughout my family and I want to give it to you now," Martinez said.
The Martinez family now considers Sutton family, even inviting him to major life events.
"He's been there for every big moment,” Jaqueline said. “For my quincenera we surprised him with a dance."
Sutton plans to continue to be a part of Jaqueline's life as she pursues a career in education or nonprofit management, saying what she went through has affected her outlook on life.
"If I was saved. I was meant to help someone else or help other people, so I take advantage of that," Martinez said.
Sutton says his experience with saving Jaqueline is what inspired him to start writing. He says her story was the first thing he ever wrote, but has now penned several books.