TONOPAH, Ariz. (UPI) — A passing motorist may have saved the life of an Arizona state trooper early Thursday morning when he shot and killed a man who was beating the trooper on the side of the road.

A man whose name has not been released was thanked by the Arizona Department of Public Safety for stopping to help an officer who’d been shot and then ambushed by a man after he’d stopped to check out a flipped vehicle on the side of a highway outside Phoenix.

“Thank you,” said Col. Frank Milstead, director of Arizona DPS, “because I don’t know if my trooper would be alive today without his assistance.”

According to DPS, the unidentified trooper was responding to a call of shots fired while driving on I-10 near Tonopah, about 40 miles from Phoenix, when he stopped to check on a flipped car on the side of the highway.

While lighting flares and blocking off an area around the scene, Milstead said the trooper was shot at from an unknown direction and wrestled to the ground. A man and his wife driving by saw what was happening, stopped and heard the trooper’s calls for help. The driver grabbed a gun in his car and shot at the suspect beating the officer, killing him.

A second driver, Brian Schober, also stopped at the scene and used the radio in the troopers’ car to call for help.

“My concern was his life,” Schober told NBC News for why he stopped and stayed to help police come find the fallen trooper.

Milstead said there was more to learn about the whole situation — the flipped car, the man who ambushed the officer — but said he was thankful that random citizens stopped to help the trooper.

“In our worst hour, we may need your help, and this was today,” Milstead said. “Thank you. Thank you for the support.”

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