Heather Fox thought she was doing a good deed. When a young woman, a stranger, asked Fox for a ride March 12 in Memphis, she said sure. But they hadn't gone far before the woman pulled out a gun and told Fox to head for an ATM machine. Instead, she stopped at a light and bolted. The rider fired as she escaped, and a bullet pierced Fox's right shoulder, exiting below her collarbone. "I have this white shirt on and I look down and it's just brown, just so much blood," recalls Fox, 34, project adviser for FedEx. "I was running, screaming, 'I just got shot, someone help me.'"

But cars drove around Fox, honking at her to get out of the way. Fortunately, Ashley Sanders heard Fox's screams. Sanders, now 19, ran into the street and guided Fox to the sidewalk, where she had her lie down and put a T-shirt under her head. "All the adults were standing around watching me, saying, 'Don't touch her, don't touch her,'" says Sanders. Instead, using what she had learned by watching shows like CSI, she applied pressure to Fox's wound to slow the bleeding until paramedics arrived. Doctors later told Fox she likely would have died without Sanders's quick action.

Within two weeks, Fox visited Sanders. "I said I owed her everything," says Fox. "It was very emotional." She also said to call if she needed any help—and two months later, Sanders did just that. "Could you help me find a job?" she asked. Fox went one better, setting up an educational trust fund for her hero. (The Tennessee Technology Center later gave Sanders a full scholarship to become a pharmacy technician.) Since then the two have become close friends, talking frequently, looking out for each other. "She's like my guardian angel," says Fox. "There's just so much love." Adds Sanders: "It's a bond that I don't have with any of my other friends."

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  • Reported by Michelle Diament/Memphis.