A 71-year-old woman was on her daily walk through a Tempe, Ariz., park on Saturday morning when a peaceful morning ritual turned into the unthinkable, after a 30-year-old man allegedly attacked her from behind in an attempted sexual assault – until two good Samaritans intervened.
One of those good Samaritans was the Patriots own Justin Herron.
Herron and a Phoenix resident, Murry Rogers, were able to hold down the assailant until police arrived, leading to an arrest. In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the Tempe Police Department gave an update on the woman's condition and thanked Herron and Rogers for their swift action.
Herron said at the press conference that he was taking advantage of the great weather and walking around the park when he heard the victim screaming.
"It was something that I never dreamed or I thought I would see, you know. You see it in movies and TV all the time, but you never think it's going to happen in real life until it does," Herron said. "In that moment, I was shocked. It was 11 a.m. It was in the middle of the day, not one cloud in the sky and in a very open field. It was just the fact that it had happened there at that time was just very, very shocking."
Once Herron realized something was wrong, he didn't think. He just ran into action, yelling and causing attention, and pulling the attacker off the woman. Rogers said that after the attacker had been apprehended, Herron made sure to remove the victim from the scene to get space and begin to heal.
While the police weren't able to give much of an update on the case itself, representatives said that both Herron and Rogers were able to meet the woman they helped save on Saturday and that there "wasn't a dry eye in the room."
"I never thought in a thousand years that I would see her ever again, and a part of me was a little bit upset that didn't ask for a name just so I could just know the name," Herron said. "It was heartwarming to see her, but also gut-wrenching to see how she responded to the trauma and how she's dealing with it. No one should go through that. No one. She has a great support system, and I'm glad that she has that support system. It was emotional for me. It was emotional for everybody in the room to see her."
Despite being honored by the Tempe Police Department, both Herron and Rogers said neither felt like a hero. They were just doing what they would hope anyone would do in that scenario.
Herron said his parents taught him to always help when he could, and that's what he was doing that morning in the park. He encouraged others do the same if they were in a position to intervene and help someone.
"My parents always talk to me about and just say like, 'If there's someone in need, make sure you can help them. Be the best you can be, and if someone needs your help, go help them,'" Herron said. "I never thought this would happen. I don't want it to happen again. I don't want to have to save someone else's life again, but I'm glad that I was able to save someone like on Saturday."