PORTLAND, Maine — Law enforcement officials and community members around Maine have been honoring Det. Benjamin Campbell's life since he was killed in a "bizarre" accident on I-95 last Wednesday.
Now, nearly a week later, and after a few journeys up and down Maine's Turnpike, Det. Campbell's body will come to its final resting place following a memorial service Tuesday morning in Portland.
The "bizarre" accident
The incident that took Det. Campbell's life happened last Wednesday, April 3, around 7:30 a.m.
Campbell was pulled over along I-95 in Hampden near exit 180, helping a driver who had spun out of control. He was standing outside of his cruiser when two wheels separated from a tractor-trailer logging truck that was driving past him. One of the wheels landed in the median, but the other hit Campbell in the breakdown lane.
As a result of the impact, Campbell suffered severe injuries. Multiple units responded to the scene to treat him, but he succumbed to his injuries. Campbell was taken by ambulance to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.
In a press conference later that day, Maine State Police Chief Col. John Cote could only describe the incident as "bizarre." He said the entire department was left shaking their heads, wondering why Campbell had to lose his life in the line of duty because of such tragic timing.
"Det. Campbell was one of our very best and well-liked," Col. Cote said through tears during the press conference. "This is going to be a loss."
Honoring a selfless life
Gov. Janet Mills ordered that all U.S. flags be lowered last Wednesday after Det. Campbell lost his life.
"Our state is heartbroken over the loss of Det. Benjamin Campbell," Gov. Mills said in a 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. Det. Campbell dedicated his career to fulfilling that mission and, ultimately, gave his life in service of it."
Flags will also be lowered Tuesday, April 9 for Campbell's funeral service.
After Campbell was pronounced dead at EMMC in Bangor, his body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta, per normal procedure.
There, nearly a dozen different departments greeted Campbell's body, which had been draped in the American flag. Fellow troopers carried Campbell into the office as a show of respect.
The next day on Thursday, April 4, Campbell's body made the 145-mile journey to Lamson Funeral Home in his hometown of Millinocket.
A group of Maine State Police troopers led his hearse every step of the way.
Community members in Millinocket spoke out about the devastating loss of Campbell, who was a beloved officer, father and husband, and friend.
"I came to pay my respect," said Kevin Leblonde, a life-long Millinocket resident. "That’s all I can do. It's just painful for everybody. It’s the whole talk of the town, and everybody misses him already. It’s only been a day, and it’s hard to deal with."
"A lot of people I talked to said they were going to come and watch [the procession]," said Kim Rogan, another life-long resident of the town. "Just to show that everybody really feels bad about it and show [Det. Campbell's wife] that the town supports her. That’s why I came out."
Campbell's body made a final trip on Monday, April 8 to southern Maine in preparation for his funeral service.
Despite snow and chilly weather, dozens of first responders came out along Maine's overpasses to salute and honor the fallen officer as his procession drove by them. They stood with their emergency vehicle lights on, raising flags at half staff.
"In the emergency service world, it's all a big brother and sisterhood -- so between fire, EMS, dispatchers, and police officers, the outpouring of support has been great for each other and from the citizens in our community," said Herman Fire Department's Assistant Chief, Cody Sullivan. "They've really been great and offered us a lot of support."
Who he was
Det. Campbell would have turned 32 years old on Monday, April 8.
Campbell is survived by his wife, Hillary, and their 6-month-old son, Everett.
Campbell grew up in East Hampton, Mass. and was a graduate of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. After high school, Campbell attended Westfield State University.
"If I had 25 students like Ben, I would be happy every single day coming to school," said Michael Brooks, Campbell's former high school teacher. "He was one who respected authority and always came up and thanked you for teaching him and giving him a trade and a shot in the world."
Campbell joined the Maine State Police in 2012 as a trooper assigned to northern Penobscot County, Troop E. He was promoted to detective in 2016 and was also a member of the State Police Polygraph Unit.
Campbell's family requested that he be honored with full line of duty death honors.
The 12th line of duty death
Det. Campbell was the 12th officer to die on the line of duty in the Maine State Police's nearly 100-year history.
Before Campbell's death, it had been nearly 22 years since an officer from the agency lost his or her life in the line of duty.
Less than 24 hours after the fatal incident, a man claiming to be the driver Campbell was helping on I-95 published a Facebook post that went viral.
Under the name "Ved Lok," Robert J. Anthony Jr. wrote a heartfelt account at 1:38 a.m. on April 4 of what he had experienced the day earlier.
Maine State Police had identified the driver Campbell was assisting as Robert Anthony, 26, of Clifton. On Monday, NEWS CENTER Maine confirmed via interview that "Ved Lok" was the legitimate screen-name for Anthony.
The funeral services for Det. Campbell will take place in Portland on Tuesday, April 9 at 11 a.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena.
Anyone interested in attending Campbell's funeral in person should park at the Maine Mall parking lot at 380 Gorham Road in South Portland. From there, law enforcement personnel will help people use the shuttle service that will bring visitors to the Arena.
Shuttle services will start running at 8:30 a.m. and will continue to run until 10 a.m.
After the ceremony, members of the public should make a short walk to the Portland Fish Pier at the intersection of Center and Commercial Streets. Buses will bringing visitors back to the designated parking area.
More information and an RSVP for Campbell's service can be found here.
NEWS CENTER Maine will be providing LIVE coverage of Campbell's funeral service on T.V. and on our website, mobile app, Facebook and YouTube pages. The broadcast will run from 10:30 a.m. through 12:30 p.m.
Donate to the family
A fund has been set up through Bangor Savings Bank for anyone who wants to donate to Campbell's wife and son during this difficult time.
Those interested can donate via PayPal or send donations to the following address:
Detective Benjamin Campbell Fund
Bangor Savings Bank
P.O. Box 454
Skowhegan, ME 04976