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Arizona good Samaritan shrugs off ‘hero’ label for saving state trooper

PHOENIX — The good Samaritan who saved the life of an Arizona highway trooper in trouble said he didn’t consider himself a hero and remained conflicted at having to shoot someone to death.

“That morning I never would have dream that I was going to save somebody’s life, let alone take the life of another individual. It is something that will stick with me,” Thomas Yoxall, 43, of Arizona, said Tuesday.

Yoxall broke his two-week-old silence and stepped out of anonymity to talk about the day his instinct to help kept trooper Edward Andersson alive during a beating.

“I had to help, I knew I had to help,” Yoxall said. Finally coming forward was “… part of my healing process in moving forward and coming to grips with that incident.”

Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said he and Yoxall have spoken frequently since the shooting.

“You have an ordinary guy, and he acts, reacts at the highest level with everything to lose that morning.

“He’s an amazing guy,” Milstead said.

Yoxall, a gun owner, said, he doesn’t have law enforcement or military training, but that he took gun safety seriously and practiced shooting at ranges.

His training would be put to the test when he helped a trooper being assaulted.

Andersson had responded to a call around 4:30 a.m. about a rollover accident on Interstate 10 west of Phoenix Jan. 12 when he was shot at, then jumped by Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, the driver in the rollover accident.

Yoxall said he saw the trooper’s car lights and flares laid out along the road. Then he saw a man beating the trooper.

“There was no choice … I responded the only way I know how — to act.”

Yoxall got out of his car, asked the trooper if he needed help. Andersson said yes. Yoxall ordered Escobar to get away from the trooper.

When Escobar didn’t stop hitting the trooper, Yoxall shot.

The consequences of his actions have affected the maintenance supervisor, who also describes himself as a tradesman and photographer.

“It comes in waves. You replay the moments and they’re almost like chapters of a DVD. … and it hurts.

“I did save somebody’s life that morning but I had to take someone body else’s life in the process.”

DPS has made counseling services available to Yoxall. He also said he has been talking with his pastor, family and friends.

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