A long week ended in tragedy Monday for the family and friends of Chad Campbell.
Campbell, 39, Brainerd, suffered extensive brain damage after being punched in the head and collapsing to the ground Thursday in downtown Brainerd. He died Monday at St. Cloud Hospital.
"It seems like such a senseless act to take someone so beautiful away," said Jimmy Parks, Campbell's co-worker at Black Bear Lodge and Saloon in Baxter.
Campbell had worked as a chef at Black Bear Lodge and Saloon in Baxter for about 1-1/2 years. Manager Deb Pieri said it's been a difficult week for all employees, especially Campbell's fellow cooks.
Several employees had planned on visiting Campbell in the hospital.
Bradley Lewis could face a more serious charge after Chad Campbell died of injuries from the punch thrown.
"We loved him to death," Pieri said. "He was a very, very talented chef, really easygoing and though a little quiet he got along with everybody. It's been a tough week, a really tough week."
Parks described Campbell as proud, full of life and an excellent cook.
"He taught me more in eight months than I've learned in the past three years," Parks said.
Matt Mason, a chef at Prairie Bay in Baxter, got to know Campbell working at Black Bear. He said Campbell was a "food geek" who was passionate about his profession and would help anyone in need.
Most important to Campbell, Mason said, was his 5-year-old daughter, Katie.
"He thought the world of her," Mason said. "In fact, those were the days I enjoyed his company most, when we went to the park with her or had a barbecue, seeing him go from co-worker and friend into daddy-mode. The guy had such heart. I'm glad I got to see and know him on a personal level. He was a really good friend."
Mason said Campbell also had a hidden talent of playing a keyboard, a gift he received from his mother last Christmas. His keyboard playing also became a running joke among his co-workers due to his choice of music.
"He always loved to play Journey songs to the point it would drive me insane," Mason said with a laugh. "He'd do it just to irritate me, play them over and over until I just about wanted to explode. We definitely had a lot of laughs about it."
The man accused of striking Campbell, Bradley Thomas Lewis, 25, Brainerd, was charged with first-degree assault resulting in great bodily harm and third-degree assault resulting in substantial bodily harm.
Lewis is being held in the Crow Wing County jail on $1 million bond without conditions or $500,000 bail with conditions.
With Campbell's death, Lewis also could face a more serious criminal charge. Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan said once autopsy results are returned to his office he will be able to make a determination on amending Lewis' criminal complaint.
According to the criminal complaint already filed against Lewis, about 1:25 a.m. Thursday Campbell and another man were involved in a verbal altercation in a parking lot at Front and South Seventh streets. As bystanders were attempting to separate Campbell and the older man Lewis tried to get at Campbell, who was calling Lewis names. The complaint said that Lewis was yelling at Campbell, saying that he was going to hurt him and that he was "going to mess him up."
The complaint further said a witness told police that Campbell asked Lewis why he was trying to hit him and said Lewis had nothing to do with the situation. Witnesses also indicated that it appeared that Campbell did not want to fight and that he had his hands up in a defensive manner when Lewis struck Campbell on the side of the head, knocking him to the ground and rendering him unconscious.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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