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11 honored in annual recognition for efforts in education, medicine, law enforcement, more

Surfing buddies Michael Starback of Ukiah and Geoff Shires of Willits were startled by the sight of a masked man grappling with a 16-year-old girl last October on the pavement of Ukiah's State Street.

While other motorists drove by, Starback and Shires, on their way back from the coast, intervened and not only rescued the girl but led authorities to apprehending her assailant.

"She was screaming, trying to get someone's attention," said Starback, 47.

For the effort, Starback and Shires shared one of the 10 Real Heroes awards presented by the local American Red Cross last week at a breakfast fundraiser in Rohnert Park.

More than 70 people from Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties were nominated as heroes and a committee of 10 community leaders selected the winners.

As soon as Shires jumped out of the car, the man let go of the teen, walked away quickly and took off the mask, apparently attempting to blend into the streetscape, Starback said.

The girl got in the car, which only had room for two people, and Starback began calling 911, reporting a fight, he said.

Shires remained at the scene as Starback followed the man at a distance, repeatedly calling in their location.

The episode was brief but "seemed like forever," he said.

The man finally sat down in a carport and another citizen showed up, ordering the man to stay put, Starback said, and police arrived to arrest him without incident.


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