AUGUSTA — A harness race spectator who was struck in the head and shoulder by a starting gate at the Windsor Fairgrounds is suing over the injuries he suffered in the September 2010 accident.

Christopher Charrier, 43, formerly of Waterville and now of Oakland, filed the lawsuit last week in Kennebec County Superior Court through his attorney, Jason Jabar. Charrier was one of five spectators injured trackside as a vehicle with a starting gate attached turned off the horse track just after the start of the 13th race of the day.

Apparently the gate, which is towed by the vehicle, failed to retract rapidly enough and struck the spectators.

The lawsuit says Charrier “was standing behind a chainlink fence, approximately waist high, in an area open to spectators” when he was struck by the gate carried by a vehicle “likely traveling in excess of 35 miles per hour.” Jabar said the gate weighed about 1,500 pounds.

Two people struck by the gate were treated at the scene and three were taken to the hospital, according to published reports at the time. Jabar said two of the injured people filed claims that were resolved with insurance companies, but Charrier’s claims were not.

Charrier suffered a large laceration on the side of the head.

“He probably sustained the most severe injury and was knocked unconscious,” Jabar said on Tuesday. “His medical bills are high, approaching $100,000.”

Named as defendants are The Maine Gate, Inc., the business that leased the starting gate vehicle to the fair; Daniel Ward, the owner of the vehicle that was towing the gate, and the Windsor Fair.

The lawsuit claims negligence on the part of all parties, saying they had to know the vehicle was dangerous. The suit seeks to recover unspecified damages.

“This gate company had had problems in the past,” Jabar said. “There were warning signs everywhere to those in the harness racing community. This was an avoidable accident. It was a disaster waiting to happen.” 

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @betadams