MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Mesa police officer hospitalized after a crash on the U.S. 60 on Tuesday morning has been identified. Police say he is Officer Sean Stoddard, and has been with the department for more than 13 years. He remains in critical condition.
According to the Department of Public Safety, Stoddard saw a ladder blocking an eastbound lane near Higley Road just before 11 a.m. So he stopped his patrol car and activated his emergency lights so other drivers wouldn't hit his vehicle. Before Stoddard could get out, a woman driving an SUV rear-ended the patrol car. The impact forced the patrol car across the lanes of traffic while the SUV rolled on its side. Both the woman, who had serious injuries, and Stoddard were taken to the hospital.
DPS said troopers got the call about the ladder in the road and were on their way to handle it when Stoddard saw it. He took the initiative to clear the road, putting himself in harm's way.
"This officer showed that that's what we do. We put ourselves in front of yours," said Trooper Kameron Lee with DPS. "He could have saved someone else's life had a motorcycle hit that ladder. We would be talking about something completely different like a fatality."
Mesa police officials say Stoddard is well-known for his work helping veterans through his nonprofit group “Archangels." Sean is a military veteran himself and is currently still serving in the Armed Forces.
A statement from the Mesa Police Department reads:
We are hopeful he will continue to make positive strides toward recovery as he is attended to by family, friends and the best medical professionals. We are grateful for our community’s support at this time and we wish Sean a speedy recovery.
It's unclear if the woman was distracted or impaired at the time of the crash. DPS is investigating.