It's impossible to know if anyone else passed by Brock Turner and the woman he was convicted of assaulting behind a dumpster. It's impossible to know if anyone thought it was worrisome that the half-naked woman beneath him wasn't moving, but didn't act. But we know at least two men who did: Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson, a pair of Swedish Ph.D. students who are now being hailed as heroes for their quick intervention.
"We saw that she was not moving, while he was moving a lot," Arndt told a Swedish newspaper of the night of the assault. "So we stopped and thought, 'This is very strange.'"
After approaching Turner and asking him what he was doing, Arndt and Jonsson testified that the Stanford swimmer took off. Jonsson then chased after Turner and tackled him to the ground, the pair said, holding him there until the police came. They both gave statements to the cops about what they saw and were key witnesses in court when they testified against Turner.
The Huffington Post spoke to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci about the case, which ended in Turner's conviction.
"Those two heroes made this case a prosecutable one," Kianerci told the publication. Without the students' help, he said, no one would have known that Turner was involved. Which is a lot of responsibility for an immediate, gut-based decision to bear.
"I think it happened on instinct for us," Arndt told NBC. "I never thought about it twice and I'm glad I did it."
Jonsson and Arndt's split-second intervention is an important reminder of our collective obligation to step in when we see something that doesn't look right, especially when it concerns campus sexual assault. As demonstrated by the students, bystander intervention can have a huge impact.
"It's on us to stop sexual assault, to get in the way before it happens, to not blame the victim... to not look the other way," stressed the 2014 launch video for the White House's ongoing campaign to stop sexual assault.
Though Jonsson has declined to talk to any media, he encouraged his Facebook followers to read the survivor's letter, which has now been viewed millions of times online and read in its entirety live on CNN.
The letter included a message of gratitude to the students.
"Thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet," the survivor wrote. "I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget."