Settlement reached in fatal hayride crash lawsuit
PORTLAND, ME (AP) - The family of a teenager who died in a hayride crash in Maine has settled a lawsuit against the farm owner who operated the Halloween attraction in 2014, the family lawyer said this week.
Money from the settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of 17-year-old Cassidy Charette will be used to support a family-created foundation to help youth, attorney Jodi Nofsinger said. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.
The hay wagon on the "haunted" hayride at Harvest Hill Farm in Mechanic Falls went out of control after a brake failure, killing the Oakland teenager and injuring more than 20 others. Prosecutors said the 1979 Jeep hauling the wagon on the "Gauntlet" ride had numerous safety problems.
Nofsinger said the legal efforts focused on holding farm operators accountable.
"I certainly hope that there's a message that comes from this," he told The Associated Press. "Anyone who invites the public onto their property for entertainment for profit has a duty and obligation to make sure the people are safe."
Harvest Hill Farm acknowledged last year that criminal negligence played a role in the brake failure as the hayride rolled downhill, sending passengers flying when it crashed and flipped. The farm pleaded guilty to a driving-to-endanger charge. Under the plea agreement, the farm was fined and prosecutors dropped a manslaughter charge. Most of the fine money went to charitable causes.
Since the Oct. 11, 2014 crash, the farm has filed for bankruptcy and been sold at auction. A grand jury declined to indict farm owner Peter Bolduc, charges were dropped against the farm's mechanic, and the driver of the Jeep hauling the wagon was acquitted of criminal charges.