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Chris LeBlanc / Houma Courier

THIBODAUX, THIBODAUX, La. -- Three Thibodaux boys are credited with saving the life of a local woman who got trapped inside her car on a blistering hot day.

Elizabeth Harris, 79, had planned to take the malfunctioning car to a mechanic but instead found herself locked inside for about two hours.

It happened on July 14 outside Harris' home near the Bayou Country Club, a day when the high reached 87 degrees, officials said. The car wouldn't start, and the doors wouldn't open.

Harris tried everything she could think of, she said, banging on the windows and sticking a call for help sign on the dashboard in the hopes that passersby would spot it and come to her aid.

Harris slipped in and out of consciousness and 'began to think I was going to die in my car. I was preparing for the worst,' she said.

That's when the three boys, who were headed home after swimming at the country club pool, rode past on their bicycles and spotted Harris' scrawled plea for help.

'We weren't sure if the person in the car was OK, but we knew we had to get help as fast as we could,' said Avery Landry, 13.

He and his best friends Wayne Galloway, 12, and Connor Richard, 13 called 911 and their parents and stood guard until help arrived, said the Acadian Ambulance officials who presented the boys with Meritorious Service Awards at a ceremony held Friday.

Harris said she remembers lifting the sign to look out the window and seeing Richard standing there.

'I knew I had been saved,' she said. 'It was like seeing the face of an angel.'

Harris' body temperature was nearly 105 degrees by the time deputies and paramedics pulled her from the car, paramedic Chad Usey said.

Harris spent the night in Thibodaux Regional Medical Center's intensive care unit, where she was treated for heat exhaustion. She has since recovered.

Police warn that it doesn't take long for a closed car to get deathly hot in south Louisiana's summer heat. With an outside temperature of 89 degrees, the car's interior would have reached 132 degrees at the one-hour mark, studies say.

'If it weren't for these three boys, Ms. Harris would have died in her vehicle,' Usey said..

To thank them, Harris started scholarship accounts for each boy. The money will one day help send each to college.

'They are my guardian angels and will forever be a part of my life,' Harris said.

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