A construction worker in Santa Ana, California, is being hailed as a hero after he not only saved a woman from being raped inside a truck but also helped authorities capture the suspect, who had initially fled the scene.
The incident reportedly took place earlier this week, when Taylor O’Neill took a different route to work but had to make a sudden stop when he noticed a vehicle blocking his way. He honked the horn several times, but when the truck did not start moving, O’Neill stepped out of his car to see what was going on.
That is when he heard the muffled screams and cries of help.
Upon moving closer to the truck, O’Neill saw the suspect on top off a woman, choking her. He also noticed the victim’s head was duct-taped.
“You could tell nothing consensual was going on in that car," O’Neill told NBC Los Angeles.
Taking immediate action, the Good Samaritan began banging on the windows and pulling on the door in an effort to distract the man, later identified as Jorge Alejandro Cruz de Armas.
"I saw her with her face duct-taped and him on top of her choking her," O'Neill told KTLA. "That's when I tried to open the door and banged on the window to get her out of there, get her safe and deal with him later."
Fortunately, his strategy worked. As soon as the 27-year-old suspect looked up to see the commotion, the woman managed to unlock the door and escape.
As soon as the victim was out of the vehicle, the would-be rapist managed to escape — but not before O’Neill took a picture of his truck, including his license plate number.
"I think if I didn't open the door he probably would have pulled away with her," O’Neill continued.
The heroic passerby stayed with the 28-year-old woman until the police arrived. As it turns out, the perpetrator had offered the victim a ride to a bank in the area. When she got inside his car, he began making unwanted sexual advances. When she refused to comply, he reportedly duct tapped her and attempted to assault her.
The authorities arrested de Armas later. He is expected to be charged with assault with the intent to rape and attempted rape by force or fear. The police department press release referred to O’Neill as a “good Samaritan.”
“Who knows what would have happened if he wasn’t there? Fortunately, the gods were working in her favor,” said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
Indeed, if it had not been for O’Neill and his timely action, that woman might not have been able to escape.
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