A Patten man will admit to responsibility in the 2019 death of a Maine State Police detective who was killed by the wheel of a logging truck trailer after he stopped to help a motorist along I-95 in Hampden, according to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s office .
Ben Campbell, 31, of Millinocket was southbound on his way to a training assignment in Augusta when he stopped to assist a stranded motorist in a snowstorm at about 7:30 am on April 3, 2019.
Campbell was struck by a tire that flew off the trailer of the logging truck driven and owned by Scott Willett, 55, in what the head of the Maine State Police called a “bizarre” accident.
The state police later suspended the license of a mechanic, alleging that his inadequate inspection of the logging truck and contributed to the freak accident. The truck and trailer were given new inspection stickers 27 days before Campbell was killed.
In addition, a week after the trailer was inspected, the faulty wheels had new tires mounted on them, apparently without anyone noticing the wheels’ poor condition, the Maine State Police announced in June 2019.
Willett is scheduled to appear at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor at 8:30 am on Aug. 19, according to court documents.
He is charged with causing the death of a person while committing a traffic infraction, a civil violation, along with five counts of trucking rule violations and two counts of operation of a defective vehicle, a Class E crime.
The rule violations and the defective vehicle charges are considered traffic infractions under Maine law.
Assistant District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Wednesday that there is a plea agreement with Willett’s attorney, James M. Dunleavy, of Presque Isle, which calls for Willett to pay a fine and have his license to drive suspended.
Almy did not have details of the deal immediately available Wednesday afternoon.
Dunleavy did not respond to a request for comment immediately on the case.
Willett faces a fine of up to $5,000 and suspension of his license for between 14 days and four years. He faces up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 on the misdemeanor criminal counts.
In the year prior to Campbell’s death, inspectors found maintenance violations on two separate occasions on a truck Willett was driving while hauling a log trailer, according to records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
In June 2018, a roadside inspection of a Kenworth truck hauling a crib log trailer turned up two maintenance- violations — a tire with insufficient tread depth and a load without a warning flag.
A November 2018 inspection revealed five violations, including three that forced Willett to take his truck off the road. Inspectors found a leaking fuel system, brake problems and a steering system “with components worn, welded or missing,” according to federal records.
Inspectors did not log any violations specifically from the trailer the truck was hauling.
The detective’s funeral, held at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, drew 3,000 people, including law enforcement officers from across New England and the Canadian Maritimes.
Campbell left behind a wife and son, who was just 6 months old at the time of his father’s death.