Friends, family and fellow law enforcement officers have been grieving all week for state police Detective Ben Campbell, who was killed last week in a freak accident after stopping to assist a stranded motorist on I-95. They turned out at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Tuesday to say farewell to the husband and new father who would have turned 32 on Monday.
In an emotional eulogy, Col. John Cote of the Maine State Police said Campbell was special for his integrity, for his sacrifice and because “he had the heart of a guardian.”
Cote said Campbell had the ingredients that go into a great trooper, ones they don’t learn about in training.
“At Ben’s very core was a cornerstone of integrity. A foundation of selfless service. Sacrifice,” he said.
Cote said Campbell maintained a positive outlook and “helped others see the light in some of our darkest days.”
“He understood, just because he was arresting someone, did not make that person a career criminal. Ben would talk to these folks, and through those conversations, he would learn that, many times, the conduct that led to their arrest was simply the result of problems and circumstances within that person’s life,” he said.
State Police Chaplain Roger Davis, in an opening prayer, said those gathered at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland had “hearts that are heavy,” “emotions that are raw,” and “minds that are perplexed.”
“We struggle in our thoughts to make some sense of this tragic accident, while our hearts have a gaping wound, once filled by the presence of a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a colleague,” he said.
Campbell’s widow Hillary also spoke. She told the crowd to slow down and appreciate the important things in life every day. She received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks.
About 3,000 people, many police from all around the region, attended Campbell’s service.
“Together, we will get through this,” Cote told the crowd, “but we will never be the same.”
Originally published 7:10 a.m. April 9, 2019.