An elderly woman's body was discovered in the front yard of her neighbor's home on Tuesday morning, according to the Lafayette Police Department.
Police say Mary Guillory, 74, left her home and wandered around her neighborhood in freezing weather. She arrived at a neighbor’s residence to receive assistance, and died outside from exposure to extreme weather conditions.
"I'm very emotional right now," said Samir Elhelou, who lives next door to the home where Guillory's body was found. "I almost cried when I heard the story. My neighbor told me she died sometime after midnight, that she might have had dementia and got lost, you know, couldn't find her home. I tell you, I really almost cried when I heard that."
Elhelou said he woke around 8 a.m. Tuesday to find police units parked outside of his home. Elhelou said he opened his window, wondering if someone had been pulled over for speeding or breaking the parish curfew.
Later that morning, he would learn the details of what had unfolded overnight.
His next-door neighbor, who declined to be interviewed for this story, reported the incident at about 7:20 a.m. Tuesday.
Lafayette police were dispatched to the 300 block of River Oaks Circle, which is located near the intersection of Settlers Trace Boulevard and West Martial Avenue near River Ranch.
"From what I understand, an elderly female wandered off during the night, knocking on neighbors' doors," said Sr. Cpl. Bridgette Dugas, spokesperson for Lafayette Police. "She was found in a neighbor's yard this morning."
Elhelou said he did not know Guillory, nor did he hear anything happening in the neighborhood overnight.
Lafayette Police Chief Thomas Glover Sr. drove along River Oak Circle mid-morning Tuesday after learning of the incident. He said his department had been taking preventative measures to avoid this kind of situation.
"We wanted to make sure that the homeless population in the city of Lafayette is protected," Glover said. "And our policy was to give them a ride to one of the local hotels or shelters in order to make sure that they were protected from the weather."
Guillory wasn't homeless, however; police say she lived in the neighborhood where her body was discovered.
Her death is the second known weather-related fatality in the Acadiana region.
The Louisiana Department of Health confirmed on Monday another storm-related death of a Carencro man who slipped on ice and hit his head on the ground.
Carol Matthews, 50, was identified as the victim.
"The Lafayette Police Department and the city of Lafayette extend our condolences and prayers to the families of the victims," Glover said. "And we want to continue to do whatever we can to make sure that the citizens of Lafayette are protected from the elements, from the weather."