It was a warm Sunday afternoon when Trooper Skye Stone switched on the blue light and pulled behind Bob Inge's SUV on U.S. 64 in Martin County.
Inge wasn't speeding. He was stranded on the shoulder in his Chevy Suburban, with his 75-year-old mother and a blown transmission.
Stone was there to help.
"Normally when you see a state trooper, he makes you nervous," said Inge, 54, who lives in the central Virginia town of Crewe. "I'm like everybody else. I've had my share of tickets. But I have never met an officer so kind."
Inge had been towing a camper home from Dare County when the SUV broke down. While he and his mother waited a couple of hours for a son-in-law with a tow truck, Trooper Stone took care of them.
"He went to a store, purchased water on his own, brought my mama a quart of water back, brought me a quart of water back, and said he would check on us," Inge said. "And he came back two or three more times. When the wrecker got there, he stopped traffic so they could get the vehicle off the road."
Inge telephoned The News & Observer a few days later to talk about what a nice guy Stone was. The trooper would not accept reimbursement for the bottled water.
"I travel a lot, and I'm telling you, this does not happen," Inge said. "This is the first telephone call I've ever made about somebody who was that helpful.
"I just want people in North Carolina to know it is something to be proud of. It was hot. That water was very nice, and he didn't have to do any of that."
Stone, 28, was puzzled when he returned the Road Worrier's phone call - and a bit wary. After revelations of sexual misconduct and other abuses over the past couple of years, state troopers have received a lot of bad press.
He was relieved to hear this wasn't that kind of call. But he didn't think it was a big deal that a trooper took care of a stranded motorist.
"Unfortunately," Stone sighed, "it happens a lot more than people realize. We really do help people."
Inge had stopped in a safe spot on U.S. 64, but the trooper was concerned about his mother.
"You could see she was upset and worried," Stone said. "It wasn't terribly hot, but at 75 years of age she might need something cool to drink. I just went to a store in Jamesville."
Martin County is 100 miles east of Raleigh and halfway to the Outer Banks. U.S. 64 changes from high-speed expressway to rural divided highway at Williamston, where Stone lives with his wife and daughter.
Beach-bound drivers don't always notice when the speed limit drops from 70 to 55 mph. Sometimes they notice Trooper Stone's blue light in their rear-view mirrors.
"We unfortunately have a bad reputation for being a speed trap," Stone said. "But it truly is a four-lane country road, with homes that butt up close to it on both sides. We've got log trucks, people backing out of their driveways."
Stone confessed that he had forgotten Inge's name.
"Usually if I remember somebody's name, it's because I've had to write it down a few times - and that's usually not good for them," he said.
While the trooper kept watch over Inge and his mother that afternoon, he had time to write nine speeding tickets.
Rural Martin County was Stone's first duty station when he joined the state Highway Patrol four years ago, and he hopes it will be his last.
"I've been all around the country growing up, and I enjoy it here," said Stone, a California native. "People are friendly. I've got beautiful highways and back country roads where it can be just me, all night long."