Thousands mourn Easthampton native Benjamin Campbell, Maine state trooper killed on duty

  • Members of the Maine State Police stand during the funeral procession for Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Portland, Maine. Campbell was helping a motorist last week when he was struck and killed by a wheel that had dislodged from a logging truck. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Hilary Campbell, center, wife of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell, holds her 6 month old son Everett as she arrives at the Cross Insurance Arena during his funeral procession, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Hilary Campbell, right, the wife of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell, holds a cloth to her face as his casket is carried into the Cross Insurance Arena during his funeral procession, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Portland, Maine. Campbell was helping a motorist last week when he was struck and killed by a wheel that had dislodged from a logging truck. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • The casket of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell rests at the front of the Cross Insurance Arena during his funeral ceremony, Tuesday, in Portland, Maine. AP PHOTO

  • Maine State Police Col. John Cote speaks during the law enforcement tribute for Maine State Police detective Benjamin Campbell, Tuesday, in Portland, Maine. AP PHOTO

  • The casket of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell is wheeled down the aisle at the Cross Insurance Arena during a Law Enforcement Tribute, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Portland, Maine. Campbell was helping a motorist last week when he was struck and killed by a wheel that had dislodged from a logging truck. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Hilary Campbell, the widow of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell, takes her seat at the Cross Insurance Arena during a Law Enforcement Tribute, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Portland, Maine. Campbell was helping a motorist last week when he was struck and killed by a wheel that had dislodged from a logging truck. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Hilary Campbell, the widow of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell, holds her 6-month-old son Everett as she arrives at the Cross Insurance Arena during his funeral procession and Law Enforcement Tribute, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Portland, Maine. Campbell was helping a motorist last week when he was struck and killed by a wheel that had dislodged from a logging truck. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Hilary Campbell, the widow of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell, is presented a flag from the Maine State Police during a Law Enforcement Tribute, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Hilary Campbell, the widow of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell, kisses a ring on a necklace during her husband’s funeral ceremony, Tuesday, in Portland, Maine. Mary Schwalm

  • Maine State Police prepare the flag for presentation to Hilary Campbell, the widow of Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell, as members of the community look on during a law enforcement tribute, Tuesday, in Portland, Maine. AP PHOTO

Associated Press
Published: 4/9/2019 7:06:08 PM

PORTLAND, Maine — Hilary Campbell choked back tears at her husband’s memorial service Tuesday as she stepped to the podium to let the crowd know she’ll make sure the couple’s 6-month-old son grows up knowing how selfless his dad was.

She was among 3,000 mourners, including law enforcement officers from Canada and as far away as California, who spent Tuesday remembering the life of Maine State Police Detective Ben Campbell, an Easthampton, Massachusetts, native, who died last Wednesday while assisting a motorist.

“I can’t begin to say everything I want to say. So I’ll just say that I love you. I love you with every piece of my being,” Hilary Campbell told the crowd. “I promise you I’ll do everything I can to raise our son as we planned.”

Campbell, 31, was fatally injured when a tire dislodged from a logging truck and struck him while he was outside his vehicle alongside Interstate 95. He was headed to a training event when he stopped to help a driver.

Campbell’s selflessness and desire to put other people first was a theme during Tuesday’s service, which brought uniformed officers to tears at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. The arena is normally a venue for concerts and hockey games.

Five members of the Easthampton Police Department traveled to Portland for the funeral.

After the funeral on Wednesday, Ben’s uncle Michael Campbell, of Easthampton, said, “The best way to remember Ben would be the kid that cared about everyone.

“Everyone talked about his smile. He was a positive thinker and he never dealt in negatives,” Michael Campbell said from Maine.

Michael Campbell said Ben always took care of others ahead of himself, and that, “You could not dislike the young man.”

Among the law enforcement personnel driven to emotion was Col. John Cote, the chief of the Maine State Police. Cote said Campbell “helped others see the light in some of our darkest days” with his warm smile and cheerful attitude. That even extended to the people he arrested, Cote said.

“He understood just because he was arresting someone did not mean that person was a career criminal. Ben would talk to those folks, and through those conversations he would learn that many times the conduct that led to the arrest was simply the result of problems and circumstances within that person’s life,” Cote said.

The memorial drew personnel from dozens of police agencies in New England and beyond. It was also the largest gathering of Maine state troopers in history, said Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine State Police. Sheriff’s deputies backed up the agency, McCausland said.

Campbell’s badge number, 1282, will be retired, McCausland said. That number appeared on the badges and license plates of hundreds of law enforcement officers who attended Tuesday’s service. The service poured out from the arena into the street, where Hilary Campbell clutched a folded American flag and a light snow fell.

“It’s a very sad day, but it’s important now to support Hilary and the rest of the Campbell family,” Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti said Tuesday. “Easthampton is fortunate enough to have had Ben as their hometown hero.”

Alberti described the funeral as a “hero’s send-off,” and said Easthampton police and the Maine State Police will “forever have a connection.”

Campbell served for 6½ years on the state police force. He grew up in Easthampton, graduated from Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton, and received an associate degree in criminal justice from Holyoke Community College. He was a graduate of Westfield State University.

Campbell was known as a talented baseball player growing up in Easthampton and played two years for the Westfield State baseball team. He set a school record at Westfield for most hits in a season with 62, a record that stands today.

Campbell’s parents and grandparents also reside in Easthampton.

Police are still investigating how the wheels came loose from the logging truck on I-95 in the Hampden area, south of Bangor. The wheels weigh about 200 pounds each. The driver of the logging truck was Scott Willett, owner of a trucking company.

The driver Campbell was assisting, Robert John Anthony of Clifton, thanked Campbell in a public Facebook post that was read aloud as part of Tuesday’s service.

“You traded your life for mine in the line of duty. I vow for as long as I live, I will never forget your smile. I will never forget your kindness. I will never forget your sacrifice,” the post said.




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