Criminal charges filed in hayride tragedy; Charette family issues statement

Today, a grand jury in Androscoggin County, Maine, returned criminal indictments in connection with a fatal hayride crash on Oct. 11, 2014.

Cassidy Charette, 17, died in the crash, and several others were injured. Cassidy was an honor student and athlete at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Maine. She and several friends went to “The Gauntlet” at Harvest Hill Farms, a popular haunted hayride attraction in the town of Mechanic Falls. Cassidy died when a hay wagon, towed by a 1979 Jeep CJ-5, went out of control and flipped.

The grand jury returned criminal indictments today, according to Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office. Harvest Hill Farms, Inc. faces charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, driving to endanger, and reckless conduct. Maine law allows criminal charges to be filed against a company or organization. Convicted companies are subject to fines. David Brown, who was driving the Jeep, and Phillip Theberge, a mechanic who worked on the Jeep, were charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct.

Jodi Nofsinger and Daniel Kagan, attorneys with the Berman & Simmons law firm, represent Cassidy’s parents, Monica and Randy Charette.

Statement from Cassidy Charette’s parents, Monica and Randy Charette of Oakland, Maine, regarding the indictments of Harvest Hill Farms Inc., David Brown, and Phillip Theberge

July 8, 2015

“Our family respects the roles and responsibilities of the court system and the grand jury. We have watched this process from the sidelines, and have not tried to influence the decisions of prosecutors. Instead, we have focused on continuing to honor Cass, her charitable work and the thoughtful and caring efforts of many in our community to remember her.

We understand there are many people who are angry and want some sort of ‘justice to be served.’ We do believe that if investigators and prosecutors deem that a person is criminally responsible, then appropriate charges should be pursued. People should be held accountable for the decisions they make that affect the health and safety of others.

But for us, the bottom line is this: In the end, we are still in the same place. Living in a life we no longer recognize without our beautiful, loving, inspiring, amazing Cass. We are left with lifelong yearning and grief. The excruciatingly disappointing truth is that nothing can ever change that, because nothing can bring her back.”

Members of the media seeking more information should contact attorney Jodi Nofsinger at 207-784-3576, orjnofsinger@bermansimmons.wpengine.com.

Photos of Cassidy Charette, courtesy of the Charette family

Cassidy Jean