Investigation: Faulty Wheel Hubs Contributed to Det. Ben Campbell’s Death
State Police provided information today about the investigation into the incident that caused the death of Detective Ben Campbell in April.
Campbell stopped on the side of the southbound lane of I-95 in Hampden to help a stranded motorist on April 3rd. The Nissan Sentra, driven by 26-year-old Robert-John Anthony of Clifton, had spun out on the icy road and was pointed in the wrong direction. The detective parked his marked SUV cruiser in the breakdown lane and went to help Anthony get his car turned around.
A loaded log truck, driven by 52-year-old Scott Willett of Patten, approached the scene and started to move into the passing lane. As it neared the scene, two tires separated from the truck and passed on either side of Campbell's parked cruiser. The tire that traveled on the roadway-side of the cruiser struck the front of the Sentra, causing damage. The other tire hit the guardrail and followed it past the cruiser, where it hit Detective Campbell, causing mortal injuries. Willett stopped at the scene and cooperated with police.
State Police conducted a roadside inspection of the truck and determined that it had multiple defects that would have caused it to be taken out of commission, including worn and faulty hub components that caused the wheels to come off. The truck had been inspected on March 7 at Timberland Trucking in Medway.
Police say that although a sticker was attached, it was determined that the truck was not subjected to a full and complete inspection. As a result, the business received a warning and technician Morris Gray's inspection license has been suspended for 6 months, which is the maximum penalty available.
An audit was conducted of Scott Willett Trucking of Patten and it revealed inadequate record-keeping, including not maintaining required maintenance, driver, and inspection records. The results of that audit were sent to the Motor Carrier Safety Administration, for their review.
The case has been turned over to the Penobscot County District Attorney's Office, to determine whether charges will be filed.
Chief of the Maine State Police Colonel John Cote said, at the media conference Friday, that Detective Ben Campbell followed procedure when he stopped to help, and was located in the safest possible place, under the circumstances.