Around New England

Runaway Tire From Logging Truck Kills Maine State Trooper on I-95

April 3, 2019

A tire that separated from a logging truck struck and killed a Maine state police officer who had pulled over on Interstate 95 to help a motorist whose car had spun out in snowy conditions.

Detective Ben Campbell, 31, was on his way to direct training when he came upon a disabled vehicle at about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in Hampden, Maine, about 5 miles southwest of Bangor in the central part of the state.

The car was sticking partly into a travel lane, so Campbell, who was driving an unmarked Maine State Police Ford Explorer, put his lights on and angled his sport utility vehicle to try to protect the motorist’s car.

Unrelated, as a logging truck approached the scene, two tires separated from the truck – “in what I think can only be considered bizarre timing,” said Colonel John Cote, chief of the Maine State Police.

One of them rolled harmlessly into the median.

“The other wheel rolled and struck Detective Campbell as he was outside of his vehicle in the breakdown lane. The tire continued and struck the vehicle he was assisting,” Cote said during a press conference Wednesday.

“He received grave injuries as a result of the impact, and despite the best efforts,” Cote said, pausing to catch himself, “of many EMS, fire, police that responded to assist him, he would later succumb to his injuries.”

Campbell was treated at the scene and then taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he was pronounced dead.

“Ben Campbell was one of our very best. Well-liked,” Cote said. “… He always saw the good in whatever was going on. He always focused on the positive. And when he stepped in, the smile was just part of him.”

He was devoted to his wife and their 6-month-old son, Everett, Cote said.

“When he had a chance to introduce you to his wife Hillary, I mean, he just glowed. He just glowed. He was so proud, and loved her so much. He introduced you to her, and you’d think he just won the lottery,” Cote said.

The family lived in Millinocket, about 70 miles north of Bangor, about halfway from Bangor to the Canadian border.

Campbell grew up in Easthampton, Massachusetts and graduated from nearby Westfield State College.

He joined the Maine State Police in 2012 as a trooper, and was promoted to detective in 2016. He worked in the state police’s polygraph unit.

“He was a great polygraph examiner, because people would talk to him. People would talk to him. And he cared. And that’s why he stopped today. That’s why, although, you know, he was headed to be an instructor at a training assignment, he didn’t hesitate. He saw that person there in need of assistance, and that became his priority. Assisting that person, protecting them from, you know, potential impact to them,” Cote said. “And he didn’t know any other way to do it.”

Campbell is the first Maine state trooper to die in the line of duty since 1997, and one of 11 who have died in the line of duty since 1924, according to the Bangor Daily News.

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