North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper J.L. Thorpe is being credited with saving the life of a female motorist following a single-car accident.

About 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Thorpe saw a Ford Windstar run off the road on U.S. 70 West near Clayton. The Ford slammed into a light post and went airborne. It then rolled about another 100 feet, coming to rest between a convenience store and a used car lot.

Thorpe stopped. Then the woman's 12-year-old niece who had been a passenger in the Ford came running up and crying for help. The two ran back to the wrecked vehicle.

Behind the wheel was Elgia Mae Hinton, 46. Her eyes were dilated and Thorpe felt no pulse. He pulled Hinton from the van, and he and a passing motorist who said she was a former EMT performed CPR.

"I wish I had got her name," Thorpe told the Raleigh News & Observer.

For five minutes, Thorpe and the unidentified woman performed CPR on Hinton. Then EMTs arrived and used a defibrillator to shock Hinton's heart back into rhythm. She was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Clayton police believe that Hinton passed out before she ran off the road.

A doctor who treated Hinton credited Thorpe with saving the woman's life.

"The patrol commends Trooper Thorpe for his quick actions," a spokesman for the patrol said in a statement.

"I happened to be in that one place at that one time," Thorpe told the paper. He also credited his mother, Sonia Thorpe, a Wake County sheriff's deputy who died of cancer in 2003, for inspiring him to seek a career in public service.

Thorpe joined the Highway Patrol in June.

At presstime Hinton was still in a coma.