A Maine state trooper, originally from Easthampton, Massachusetts is dead after an incident investigators are calling, “bizarre.”
According to Maine State Police, 31-year-old Detective Ben Campbell was helping a stranded driver whose car spun out on the southbound side of I-95 in Hampden, Maine, just south of Bangor.
The weather at the time was snowy and Campbell had requested another trooper assist him.
Around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, with that help en route, the detective was walking back to his police vehicle when two wheels broke off an axle of a tractor-trailer truck that was passing by and changing lanes.
Both wheels had been attached to the trailer portion of the truck.
The driver’s side wheel flew into a median, while the passenger side wheel struck and hit Campbell.
In an emotional press conference Tuesday afternoon, Maine State Police Col. John Cote described Campbell as “gravely injured” by the wheel’s impact and though he was treated for injuries at the scene and taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, he succumbed to those injuries at the hospital.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, identified by police as 52-year-old Scott Willette of Patten, Maine did stop at the scene of the incident.
In the time since, police say they have questioned Willette, tested him for substances, had a commercial vehicle unit assess the condition of his truck and have released Willette.
In his remarks, Col. Cote revealed the “focus” of most troopers following what happened was finding a way to support Campbell’s immediate family including his wife and six-month-old son, who live in Millinocket, Maine.
Campbell also still has family in Massachusetts and was a Westfield State University graduate.
His family in the Bay State are being escorted to Maine by Massachusetts State Police and have asked that Campbell is given full line of duty death honors.
At the same time, Maine first responders were expected to escort Campbell’s body from the Bangor area to the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the scene of Campbell’s death, which happened just off the Colebrook Road exit on I-95 South had been cleared.
Five miles of the highway had been closed for hours after the detective died as police assessed the scene and began their investigation and drivers were forced to detour on local roads around that stretch most of the day.
Asked about Campbell’s demeanor, Col. Cote, recalled the detective as “one of the best and one of the best polygraph detectives” on the Maine State Police force.
He added that Campbell, “had a textbook smile … and always found the good in every situation.”
The grief among troopers he said, visibly moved, was raw because Campbell’s death was so sudden and happened just days before his 32nd birthday.
No funeral arrangements were disclosed by Cote during his remarks Tuesday.