On the morning of April 3, 2019, a Maine state trooper who was aiding a stranded motorist on Interstate 95 was killed when a wheel from a passing logging truck flew off and struck him. The log truck was changing lanes when two wheels came off the truck and separated, one hitting the cruiser and the other hitting the officer, who later died of his injuries.
Being a good Samaritan ended tragically
Benjamin Campbell, a Maine State Police detective, was on his way to a training event when he volunteered to respond to a dispatch call regarding a stranded motorist who had spun out on a snowy section of I-95. He arrived on the scene and pulled over in his department-issued Ford Explorer. With its blue emergency lights activated, he approached the spun-out car in the ditch just south of the Coldbrook Road overpass in Hampden.
Scott Willett’s logging truck was approaching Campbell’s SUV and moved into the left lane to give Campbell space. But as Willett switched lanes, two wheel and tire assemblies detached from the truck. One of the wheels rolled into the median. The other struck Campbell. He sustained massive injuries from the impact and was pronounced dead at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
Multiple charges leveled against driver, but will not face jail time in plea deal
Willett, 55, won’t face jail time but he is expected to be fined and have his license suspended. Under the plea deal, he is expected to admit to one motor vehicle violation charge, a civil offense, and five motor carrier rule violations. R. Chris Almy, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, brought the charges forth during a court hearing on July 28.
His office is asking the court to suspend Willett’s license for six months and to fine him $15,000. The Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office originally charged Willett with operating a defective vehicle, a Class E criminal offense. That charge has been dropped in exchange for Willett admitting to the civil and traffic violations.
The mechanic that certified Willet’s truck as safe for the road has also faced penalties. Maine State Police suspended the mechanic who gave Willett his inspection sticker for the logging truck 27 days before Campbell’s death. State officials said that the truck did not receive a full and thorough inspection.
Detective Campbell had been working for the Maine State Police since 2012 and was promoted to detective in 2016. He died days before his 32nd birthday.
He is survived by his wife and son, who was six months old at the time of his death. Almy said his office has been in touch with Campbell’s family throughout the case and that relatives likely will speak at Willett’s sentencing hearing on August 19.