Two years after hayride tragedy, Cassidy Charette shines on

Two years after her tragic death, Cassidy Charette’s remarkable life and spirit continue to be celebrated by her family, friends, and community.

Cassidy, 17, was an honor student and standout athlete at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Maine. On Oct. 11, 2014, she and some friends went to “The Gauntlet” at Harvest Hill Farm, a popular haunted hayride attraction in the town of Mechanic Falls. Cassidy died when a 1979 Jeep and the wagon it was towing went out of control and flipped while traveling down a hill. Several others were injured.

Tuesday, on the two-year mark of Cassidy’s death, ceremonies were held in her honor at Mt. Merici Academy in Waterville, and at Messalonskee High School. Click on the links to see media coverage of these events.

Cassidy’s dedication to public service and her positive attitude have inspired a wave of philanthropy and volunteerism in the Oakland area and beyond.

In less than two years, more than $150,000 has been gifted to various charitable organizations close to Cassidy’s heart, and thousands of dollars have been donated in-kind to support community projects. The slogan #ShineOnCass has become a unifying symbol for many of the projects and associated fundraising.

The Berman & Simmons law firm has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Cassidy’s parents. Attorneys Jodi Nofsinger and Daniel Kagan of Berman & Simmons filed the civil lawsuit July 6, 2016, at Kennebec County Superior Court. The defendants are Harvest Hill Farm, Inc., and four other corporate entities affiliated with the farm; as well as farm owner Peter Bolduc, Jr.; driver of the Jeep, David Brown; and mechanic Philip Theberge.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for damages including conscious pain and suffering, funeral expenses, pecuniary loss, emotional distress, loss of comfort, society and companionship.

Criminal charges related to the crash were filed last summer and remain ongoing, separate from the civil lawsuit. Harvest Hill Farm faces felony charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and driving to endanger. Maine law allows criminal charges to be filed against a company or organization, with convicted companies subject to fines.

An investigation by the state Fire Marshal’s Office, parts of which were made public last year, 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.

Cassidy Jean

Cassidy Charette

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