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.
The assailant, who admitted that he intended to rape and possibly kill a girl, was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The hero award as a good Samaritan "is neat," Starback said, but suggested it should go to someone who jumps into the ocean or braves a fire to rescue a person.
The other nine awards were:
Good Samaritan, Youth (Santa Rosa): Allyson Ahlstrom, 14, of Santa Rosa came up with the idea of Threads for Teens, a free shopping site stocked with donated designer clothing for teen girls who cannot afford nice school clothing.
Ahlstrom's idea, created to help boost girls' self-esteem, soon filled the family home and prompted its move to a Windsor storefront. Teen girls are invited to pick two complete outfits and also get a backpack with makeup, beauty supplies and a gift certificate for a haircut.
Good Samaritan, Senior: Arnie Cohen of Petaluma founded the Carousel Fund in 1986, shortly after he and his family raised funds for a local girl stricken with leukemia. To date, the fund has raised more than $5 million to assist local families with children who suffer from catastrophic illnesses.
Law Enforcement: Santa Rosa Police Officer Charles La Sala received a call regarding a woman who was threatening to hurt herself. He recognized the seriousness of the situation after talking to her husband and learning there were several loaded firearms in her house. La Sala calmed the woman and eventually was able to convince her to come out of the house. Authorities later found a loaded handgun with her wedding ring on top of it in the bedroom.
Education: Kid Street Learning Center in Santa Rosa, founded and run by Linda Conklin, provides a structured learning environment for children who come from dysfunctional or abusive homes. Children ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade are taught to make better choices, develop good study habits, positive self-esteem and choose love over hate.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here