A brave woman from Burlington, Massachusetts saved a 37-year-old mother from an attempted rape and abduction on a Sunday night.
WCVB reported that a woman, later identified as Zayra Mendoza, was on her way home on the night of May 8 along a sidewalk leading to Great Meadow Road when an unknown man attacked her. The media outlet highlighted that Mendoza was terrified and requested that her face not be shown during the interview for her protection.
An Attempted Kidnapping & A Brave Samaritan
Mendoza, who spoke in Spanish, said the man tried to rape her and attempted to abduct her. She revealed to the media outlet that she thought she was going to die that night until a good Samaritan helped her.
"When I looked, the man was right on top of me. I thought: 'This man is going to rape me, going to kill me. I was screaming. I was trying to fight him off. He was dragging me by one arm. In the struggle, I was left topless," Mendoza said.
"When the woman in the SUV drove by, thanks to her, it all stopped," she added.
Meanwhile, the woman in the SUV, Ariel Naylor, told the media outlet she was similarly on her way home that night when she saw a woman being attacked.
Naylor recounted that she just turned that last corner on Middlesex Turnpike when she saw a girl being dragged through the parking lot by her hair. Naylor saw that the girl had no clothes on the top half because the man had ripped them off her. She said the man was dragging the girl but she fought like hell.
In an interview with ABC 7, Naylor said she scared the attacker away when she slammed the brakes of her car and pulled over. Naylor then immediately called 911 about what she saw. She told the dispatcher that she was on the side of the road and that the abductor fleed as soon as she stopped the car.
Footage from a nearby surveillance camera showed that Burlington Street was busy the night of the attack. Several cars could be seen passing by while the attack was going on and only Naylor's SUV was the one that stopped to help.
In the footage, Mendoza was initially seen walking to Great Meadow Road, when she noticed the man was following her from a distance. The man chased her and eventually caught up with her at the intersection. Mendoza defended herself by wrestling with her attacker. But the man got hold of her and started dragging her away. Then Naylor's SUV came and stopped, which prompted the assailant to let go of Mendoza as he fleed and was lost from the sight of the camera.
The Brave Samaritan Is A Reminder On Vigilance
Burlington Police Chief Thomas Browne said that Mendoza put up the fight of her life and was lucky Naylor pulled over, put herself in harm's way by doing so, and acted without due regard for her own safety. Browne stressed that Naylor also assisted the victim with 911.
Naylor explained that she only did what she had to do and felt she doesn't deserve to be called a hero. She stressed that it already means a lot for her to be able to help someone else and ensure that person got home to her family.
According to Browne, the incident was a wake-up call for vigilance in Burlington since such violence can happen anywhere. The police chief reminded the need for people to be attentive, to use the buddy system, and to be constantly aware of their surroundings. He underscored the importance of immediately calling 911 whenever one encounters something "that doesn't just sit right."
Meanwhile, investigations revealed that the assailant was a white man whose age ranged from teens to early 20s. The man, who indecently touched the victim that night, wore a black hooded sweatshirt matched with a black hat, brown pants, and black-and-white sneakers.
Authorities eventually identified the attacker as 23-year-old Tyler Healey of Winthrop, who has been arrested on Tuesday. Healey was charged with indecent assault, assault with intent to commit a felony, battery on a person 14 or older, attempt to commit a crime, and assault with intent to rape. Healey's father apologized on behalf of his son, who he said had a mental condition that made him violent at times. Healey is being detained pending a hearing set next week.
With Healey in custody, Mendoza has reunited with Naylor who she calls heaven sent. Mendoza expressed gratitude to Naylor for being the only one who stopped that night. She revealed that she was actually thinking of her 9-year-old daughter when Naylor saw her being dragged by the hair. She called her brave for stopping to help her. Naylor, on the other hand, revealed that the traumatic incident has created a special friendship between them.
"I don't know her, but I feel a connection with her. That night I held her, and I'd do it again. I'm so happy she's OK. I will forever cherish our friendship," Naylor said.