The woman seen on surveillance video being dragged by a suspected would-be kidnapper in Burlington, Massachusetts, this weekend has reunited with the driver whose quick thinking is credited with saving her.
The woman was fighting off her attacker Sunday night about 8:30 p.m. near Middlesex Turnpike and Great Meadow Road when Ariel Naylor drove by and stopped her SUV. Naylor recalled the moment at a news conference Wednesday outside of Woburn District Court, where the accused attacker was in court.
"I just keep thinking about what would have happened if I hadn't been on that road at that time of night," Naylor said. "Like, it was perfect timing. It was meant for me to be there with her."
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
The attacker, allegedly 23-year-old Tyler Healey, fled on foot after appearing to have been startled when Naylor parking her SUV nearby — she called 911 and authorities have called her a good Samaritan, though Naylor said Wednesday she didn't think of herself as a hero and credited police and the victim herself: "She fought to the middle of the road so that I could get there in time."
The woman, who is 37, was able to get away from the kidnapper, and police located her shortly after the 911 call. She is "extremely grateful" at how the incident turned out, her sister-in-law, Jessica Santiago, said Wednesday.
She explained that the woman arrived in the United States from Nicaragua about five months ago.
"I tried to explain to her that things like this don't happen every day. This is extremely rare. I don't know that she will ever move on from it but I will do my best to help her," Santiago said.
Healey was arrested Tuesday in Winthrop. In Woburn District Court on Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty to charges including attempted kidnapping and indecent assault.
Prosecutors said Healey was turned in with the help of his father, who called police after he recognized his son in the photos they'd released — something Santiago said was "the best feeling I've had in the three days."
She explained, "That you know your son is a danger to society and you were willing to turn him in — I am a mother. Can't tell you that I would do that, so that's amazing."
The judge ordered Healey be held without bail through a dangerousness hearing next week. He also revoked bail for another matter in Waltham District Court, and mentioned that Healey has a Framingham probation matter.
Prosecutors said they were still gathering police reports to detail his criminal history.
Authorities have said that the attack appeared to be random and violent, with Healey allegedly grabbing the victim, touching her indecently and dragging her — her shirt came off in the struggle.
“The victim in this case did nothing wrong, she was just minding her business trying to walk home," Burlington Police Chief Thomas Browne has said.
He's also called the actions of Naylor — who was identified Wednesday — heroic, saying, "She put herself in harm’s way and allowed us to get there and take over and, thankfully, nothing worse happened."
Naylor said that she met the woman she rescued for the first time Tuesday night and felt an immediate bond.
"There are so many things that line up between her family and mine that it immediately just pulled us together," she said.
Naylor also credited the victim not only for fighting back against her attacker but for appearing at his court hearing Wednesday.
"Seeing her today, she is the strongest person because she is here, she’s here seeing [Healey] and standing up for herself and anybody else," Naylor said, adding, "so I will be with her until the very end and after. She is my forever family."