A Maine state trooper was killed Wednesday morning in Bangor when he was struck by a tractor trailer wheel that detached from a passing logging truck as the trooper had stopped to assist a motorist who had spun out on the slippery roadway.

Ben Campbell (Photo courtesy of Maine State Police)

Trooper Ben Campbell, 31, was killed just south of the Coldbrook Road overpass in the southbound lanes of I-95 just after 7:30 a.m., said Maine State Police Colonel John Cote.

Cote said troopers are offering support to Campbell’s family, including his wife, Hillary. Campbell is also survived by a six-month-old son, Everett.

“We know that together we’ll get through this,” Cote said, holding back emotion. “But it’s been a tough day.”

Two wheel and tire assemblies became detached from the truck. One of the the wheels rolled into the median, but the other struck Campbell. He sustained massive injuries from the impact.

The driver of the truck, Scott Willett, of Patten, is the owner and operator of Scott Willett Trucking, Cote said. After the tire and wheel assemblies came loose, Willett stopped the vehicle.


In an emotional press conference held in Bangor at Campbell’s home troop, Cote said he and others are still struggling to comprehend how the crash occurred, and said it appeared to be a freak accident.

Cote said the state police commercial vehicle enforcement unit is performing a full vehicle autopsy and will conduct all standard investigative steps that typically follow a fatal motor vehicle crash, including a blood test on Willett to determine if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


The driver of the other vehicle, which was disabled in the roadway, was not immediately identified. Cote said that person witnessed Campbell’s injuries and was among the first to call 911.

Cote said Campbell joined the Maine State Police in 2012 and was promoted to detective in 2016. He worked as a member of the state police polygraph team.

Campbell was on his way to a training session when he saw the disabled vehicle and decided to stop his department-issued Ford Explorer SUV and activated his blue emergency lights, Cote said.


Cote said there is no suspicion at this point that the driver of the truck had violated state law requiring motorists to slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles, but said the truck appeared to have been changing lanes before or during the time that the wheels became detached.

Cote said there is no reason to believe the wheel separation was caused by weather. Cote said the initial spin-out was likely caused by slippery conditions on a bridge overpass, which typically freeze first.

There was light snow in Bangor around the time of the crash, with temperatures around 33 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Gov. Janet Mills ordered flags lowered to half staff immediately throughout the state Wednesday, and issued a statement expressing her deepest condolences to the Campbell family.

“Our state is heartbroken over the loss of Detective Benjamin Campbell,” Mills said in the statement. “Maine’s law enforcement professionals put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect our state, keep our communities safe, and help our fellow citizens. Detective Campbell dedicated his career to fulfilling that mission and, ultimately, gave his life in service of it. On behalf of the people of Maine, I express our deepest and unwavering gratitude for his service. Together let us keep his family, friends, and loved ones, along with Maine’s entire law enforcement community, in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

The last Maine state trooper killed in the line of duty was Detective Glenn Strange, who died in October 1997 of heart problems, six days after he was punched and kicked in the chest by a drunken driving suspect being arrested in Linneus.

The Maine State Police force is divided into troops that are each responsible for patrolling a large swathe of the state. The stretch of I-95 where the crash occurred is patrolled by Troop E, which also is responsible for all of Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, and is led by Lt. Sean Hashey, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Campbell’s family has requested that he be given full line-of-duty death honors, and plans for his funeral and memorial will be announced in the coming days, Cote said.

This story will be updated.

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