PHOENIX — An Arizona state trooper stopped to help at a car wreck along a remote highway Thursday when he was shot and wounded in an ambush by a man who was bashing the officer’s head against the pavement until a passing driver shot him to death, authorities said.

The trooper, a 27-year department veteran, suffered a severe wound to his shoulder and upper chest but he is expected to recover at a hospital.

“My trooper would not be alive without his assistance,” Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said of the good Samaritan who stopped.

The drama unfolded at an early morning rollover wreck on Interstate 10 in the desert west of Phoenix where a woman was ejected and killed. Authorities believe the man who shot the officer was driving the car that crashed.

Officials said they were trying to determine exactly what happened and that the investigation faced major hurdles with the trooper seriously injured and two of the others involved dead. No identities have been released.

A separate driver reported gunfire and a trooper was responding to that call when he spotted the wreck and stopped, Milstead and DPS Capt. Damon Cecil said.

The officer was putting out flares when the suspect opened fire and then physically attacked the wounded trooper, Milstead said. Both Milstead and Cecil said the trooper was ambushed.

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