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Former La Jolla resident named a ‘local hero’

By Steve Perez

Contributor

One night in November 2008, Blake Stech was relaxing in a recliner in his apartment off Gilman Avenue, engrossed in work on his laptop, sipping from a glass of red wine.

A series of loud screams pierced the evening air.

Stech, 26, says he didn’t think twice before sprinting downstairs and into the street.

He spotted two figures in the darkness attacking a woman on the ground. They grabbed some of the victim’s belongings and ran toward a getaway car.

“I just figured I could help immediately rather than just calling the police,” he said in an interview with the La Jolla Light.

Stech dodged a swing from one of the suspects, who ended up being an “androgynous-looking” woman, he said. Stech grabbed the backpack they had stolen from the victim. When another man heard the commotion and arrived to help, the assailants were persuaded to move on.

Before they did, Stech copied down their vehicle’s license plate number and police arrested them soon after.

Stech ended up testifying three times in the case, and the female suspect was eventually convicted.

On Thursday, Stech was among those honored by the Rotary Club of San Diego and area law enforcement during their annual “Salute to Local Heroes” at Town & Country Convention Center in Mission Valley. San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who nominated him for the honor, presented the award.

The awards are meant to recognize “average citizens who have performed courageous deeds.”

“I’m not looking to be a vigilante,” said Stech, now a University City resident who is marketing real estate for an investment company. “It was something in my subconscious, I guess, something in my value system that triggered me to assess the situation and feel like I could handle it.”

His advice for those who might one day find themselves in a similar situation: “Trust your instincts. Be proactive. If you see some kind of injustice in the world, do whatever you think is in your power and try to help.”