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 while he was outside of his vehicle at the site of a disabled car on I-95 south in Hampden. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

A Patten man who was driving his logging truck in 2019 when a wheel flew off the trailer and killed a Maine State Police detective appeared in Penobscot County court on Friday, more than three years after the accident that claimed the life of Det. Ben Campbell.

Scott Willett, 55, agreed to pay a maximum $5,000 court-ordered fine and surrender his license to drive for six months. He also admitted to five rules violations that each carried a $2,000 fine for his role in Campbell’s death on April 3, 2019, according to Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.

Willett will not serve any jail time, as the charges he faced included a civil violation and traffic infractions.

He had been driving on I-95 in Hampden on April 3, 2019, when a wheel on his logging truck trailer flew off and hit the state police detective, who was helping another driver whose car had spun out in the snow and was facing the opposite direction of oncoming traffic.

Campbell had pulled over to assist the driver, who called 911 after hitting black ice in his white Nissan Sentra during a snowstorm. Campbell was standing outside of his state police cruiser when two tires on Willett’s truck trailer, which was passing them, separated from the front axle.

One tire hit the median separating the north- and southbound highway lanes, and the other tire hit Campbell before hitting the other driver’s car in a rapid turn of events that Maine State Police Col. John Cote called “bizarre.”

The state police later suspended the license of the mechanic who inspected Willett’s truck for failing to notice the wheels’ faulty condition.

Willett’s attorney, James Dunleavy of Presque Isle, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Campbell, a polygraph unit detective who would have turned 32 five days after the accident, lived in Millinocket and was well liked among the Maine law enforcement community. He was also a new father to a 6-month-old son when he died.

“Ben was loved by a lot of people, including his family, the community, his fellow state troopers and other law enforcement officers,” Almy said. “Justice is an elusive concept. What we can do is at least bring some degree of accountability to what happened.”

Nancy Campbell, Ben’s mother, submitted a victim impact statement, which she addressed to Willett.

“Nothing can bring Ben back,” Campbell wrote. “The loss and suffering will forever weigh heavily in my heart.”

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Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.