Hayride mechanic will testify in trial against Harvest Hill Farm

Criminal charges against the mechanic of the Jeep involved in a fatal hayride crash in Maine two years ago were dropped this week, in exchange for his testimony against the farm where the tragedy occurred.

Philip Theberge, 39, of Norway, Maine, had been charged with reckless conduct. Instead, according to multiple media outlets he will testify in the upcoming criminal trial against Harvest Hill Farm, which faces a felony manslaughter charge for the death of 17-year-old Cassidy Charette. Maine law allows criminal charges to be filed against a company or organization, with convicted companies subject to fines.

In interviews Tuesday, attorney Jodi Nofsinger of Berman & Simmons said the criminal cases have no bearing on the pending wrongful death lawsuit against Theberge, David Brown, Peter Bolduc, Jr., and Harvest Hill Farm. Nofsinger and Daniel Kagan represent Cassidy Charette’s parents in the civil lawsuit.

“Our case is really about the fact that this was completely preventable, that the way this hayride was being run, it was literally an accident waiting to happen,” Nofsinger told Newscenter’s Chris Rose of WCSH.

Click on the links to see the coverage.

WCSH6 TV “Criminal case and some charges dropped in fatal hayride crash

WMTW8 TV “Charge dropped against mechanic in fatal hayride crash

Cassidy Charette, a junior at Messalonskee High School, died on Oct. 11, 2014 during a haunted hayride at Harvest Hill Farm in the town of Mechanic Falls. A 1979 Jeep and the wagon it was towing went out of control and flipped while traveling down a hill.

An investigation by the state Fire Marshal’s Office concluded the Jeep’s brakes were not functioning properly at the time of the crash, and the vehicle was hauling more than double its intended towing capacity.

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