Jodi Nofsinger and Daniel Kagan, attorneys with the Berman & Simmons law firm, are representing the family of a teenager from Oakland, Maine, who died in a haunted hayride crash last October.
Cassidy Charette, 17, was an honor student and athlete at Messalonskee High School. On the night of Oct. 11, 2014, Cassidy and several friends went to “The Gauntlet” at Harvest Hill Farms, a popular Halloween attraction on Route 26 in Mechanic Falls.
On that night, Harvest Hill Farms used a 1979 Jeep CJ-5 to tow guests on a hay wagon. Cassidy was among more than 20 people who were on the hay wagon when the Jeep went out of control. Cassidy was killed, and many others injured, when the hay wagon overturned.
Nofsinger and Kagan have filed notices of claim with several corporations that operate as Harvest Hill Farms as well as the farm owner and the operator of the Jeep. They are monitoring the ongoing investigation by the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office. Chief Prosecutor Andrew Robinson has indicated that he expects to present witnesses to a grand jury.
The Portland Press Herald published an article on May 2 about this development. The Press Herald and several other media outlets in Maine recently reported on proposed legislation that would create new regulations for rides such as The Gauntlet. Such regulations would require hayrides and similar attractions, and the vehicles they use, to be licensed and/or inspected by the state.
“We applaud the effort to establish, and enforce, safety rules to keep everyone in our community safe as we go through our daily lives. But regulations alone are not enough,” Daniel Kagan told Press Herald reporter David Hench. “In order for everyone in our community to feel safe, the community must see that those who choose to put others at risk are accountable when things go bad, or worse, as they did here … accountable to the state, for violating safety rules, and they are accountable to the victims who bear the brunt of the safety rule violations most directly.”
Regulations are important because they establish minimum safety rules, Kagan said.
“But regulations augment, rather than replace, competence and common sense, and – as we see too frequently, such as in Portland’s recent tragedies involving rental property – the existence of codes and regulations is no guarantee that they will be followed,” Kagan said, referring to the Nov. 1 fire on Portland’s Noyes Street that killed six young adults.