AUSABLE FORKS — A 24-year-old woman who saved a neighbor while an attacker loomed is being hailed as a hero by two towns.
On the night of Nov. 22, Daniella Smith was watching television, while her two children slept nearby, when a naked, bloody woman rapped on her window.
Hearing the woman scream that someone was trying to kill her, Smith pulled her into her 2567 Main St. apartment, wrapped her gaping neck wound with towels and hid her in the kitchen.
All the while, the alleged attacker, John L. Rouse, 26, approached Smith at her home several times, asking whether she had seen the woman.
The 64-year-old woman survived the two-hour sexual assault and stabbing, and police credited Smith with saving her life.
Residents in the small community responded to the young mother's bravery by asking town officials to formally recognize Smith's actions.
"Daniella is a true hero," Jay Town Supervisor Thomas Douglas said. "I think she saved the life of a human being who wouldn't have stood much of a chance."
Jay officials will present Smith an award at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Town of Jay Community Center.
A separate ceremony will be held later in the month by the Town of Black Brook.
"She is a beacon of hope. Usually, people run away when something like this happens," Black Brook Town Supervisor Steve Godlweski said.
An anonymous Syracuse woman who read of Smith's quick-thinking actions sent her a $100 money order and congratulated her for showing unselfish courage.
Although relieved the neighbor she barely knew survived the brutal attack, Smith is surprised by the public's reaction.
"I don't know that I deserve all this. I did what I was supposed to do, and I would do it again," said Smith, who has since moved her family to a new apartment.
"I'm hoping if something ever happened to me, someone would help."
The injured woman has since moved out of the area. Smith said she hasn't spoken to her since that night.
"I still have nightmares. I just pray the lady is OK."