Teenage Girl Dies and 22 People Injured in Hayride Truck Accident
Halloween is a time of joyful fright, but for 22 hayride passengers, the fright was all too real. Harvest Hill Farm in Portland, Maine, operated the doomed hayride wagon which was pulled by a (pretty cool-looking) 1979 Jeep as it traversed over the farm’s forested hill. When the truck driver missed a turn and the wagon jackknifed, the truck, unable to stop, overturned and ran down a hill, coming to a stop by crashing into a tree. Passengers were thrown into one another and into trees, resulting in multiple broken bones, back injuries, neck injuries and head injuries. One teenage girl died.
The driver in the hayride truck accident was 54 year old David Brown of South Paris, Maine. He was seriously injured. The farm reported that Brown is an experienced trucker who has a commercial driver’s license. Injuries in the hayride truck accident were serious. Connor Garland, 16, suffered multiple fractures and was being treated at Children’s Hospital. His homecoming date, seventeen-year-old Cassidy Charlette, tragically died from head injuries. Cassidy Charlette was a beautiful young lady and a high school soccer player. She attended the hayride every year. It is unclear why the Jeep was unable to stop on the hill. Investigators are calculating the passengers’ weight to determine if the hay wagon was overloaded. Another possibility is that the brakes failed. Former employee Charles Ramsey is pointing the finger at Harvest Hill Farms in the hayride truck accident, suggesting that Re-Harvest, Inc. operates unsafe trucks. For two years, Ramsey drove a truck for Re-Harvest Inc., the Portland recycling company which is under the same corporate structure as Harvest Hill Farms. He claims that in 2010, the roof of his 18-wheeler blew off while driving up Interstate 95. He was cited for driving an unsafe vehicle. “Oh God, there were holes in the frame of the trailer, pieces of the trailer were missing, lights, brakes,” said Ramsey. The state’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division through the state police confirmed that the truck had 26 safety violations. “I was surprised that it took so long for something to happen. Unfortunately a young girl lost her life which is really pretty much one of the reasons I started saying the things that I did,” said Ramsey. Maine does not have statutes that regulate hayrides. Rhode Island is the only state that requires a permit to operate hayrides. With so many people trusting the safety of a hayride, permits should be required for hayrides and issued only after a vehicle safety inspection and a terrain safety inspection of the hayride site. In Maine and at least 14 other states, operators must display signs warning of dangers of the rides and stating that the operators are not liable for injury or death in the event of a hayride truck accident. It is unclear whether the farm where the hayride truck accident occurred had such a sign.