Maine State Police Col. John Cote holds a press conference on Wednesday afternoon regarding the death of detective Ben Campbell. Detective Campbell was struck by a wheel that came off the trailer of a logging truck on I-95.

The Maine State Police detective who died after he was struck on the side of Interstate 95 in Hampden on Wednesday morning had served about 6½ years on the police force and was a new father.

Ben Campbell, 31, was sworn in as a Maine State Police trooper in August 2012 and spent much of his early career patrolling northern Penobscot County, according to past reporting by the BDN.

[State police detective fatally struck by truck tire on I-95 in Hampden in ‘bizarre’ accident]

After five years on patrol, he was promoted to detective in August 2017 and assigned to the Maine State Police polygraph unit, according to the agency’s Facebook page.

He was to turn 32 on Monday.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

He leaves behind his wife, Hilary, an occupational therapist at Millinocket Regional Hospital, and a 6-month-old son, Everett. The family lives in Millinocket, and Campbell grew up in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Maine State Police Col. John Cote on Wednesday said Campbell had “a textbook smile.”

“He always saw the good in whatever was going on,” Cote said. “He always focused on the positive. When he stepped in, the smile was just part of him.”

During a Wednesday afternoon news conference at Maine State Police barracks in Bangor, Cote recalled the times he met Campbell in person, including at his 2017 promotion to detective.

“When he had a chance to introduce you to his wife, Hilary, he just glowed. He glowed,” Cote said. “He was so proud and loved her so much, and he introduced you to her, and he’d just won the lottery. He took such pride in his marriage, in his new son.”

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Campbell was on his way to a training assignment Wednesday morning when he stopped to help a car on the side of the I-95. That’s when two tires on a passing logging truck detached from the truck and separated. One rolled into the highway median and the other struck Campbell.

It was in Campbell’s nature to help others, according to Cote.

“He was a guy that was always going to see the good in people, and he was a great polygraph examiner because people would talk to him,” Cote said.

That’s also why the detective pulled to the side of the road Wednesday morning, even though he wasn’t on patrol duty.

“Although he was headed to be an instructor at a training assignment, he didn’t hesitate,” Cote said. “He saw that person was there in need of assistance, and that became his priority.

“He didn’t know any other way to do it.”

[Maine first responders pay respects to trooper killed on I-95 in Hampden]

In Millinocket, residents reacted to Campbell’s death “with shock and extreme sadness not only for the loss of the trooper but the loss to their young son,” said Michael Madore, a Millinocket Town Council member whose children attended Stearns High School with Campbell’s wife, Hilary.

“Certainly, you never want to hear something like this, but when it is a young and happy couple in the community where both are well liked and well respected, you really hate to see tragedy like this,” said Madore, who attended Stearns with Hilary’s father, Steve Arsenault.

Hilary’s mother, Lisa Arsenault, is the vice president of human resources at Millinocket Regional Hospital.

Ben Campbell “was known here as an extremely professional young man, and compassionate,” Madore said.

BDN writer Nick Sambides Jr. contributed to this report.