MECHANIC FALLS — Twenty-three people on a hayride were injured Saturday night – three of them seriously – when the hayride trailer overturned on a steep dirt road, authorities said. Some victims were flown by helicopter to area hospitals.

The accident occurred about 8:30 p.m. at Harvest Hill Farms on Route 26 when the driver of a jeep pulling the hayride trailer near a “haunted house” at the top of a hill missed a right-hand turn, said Androscoggin County Sheriff Guy Desjardins.

“The trailer jackknifed and the jeep went off the road,” Desjardins said. “We’re talking about a very narrow dirt road, but extremely steep.”

Desjardins said he has been with the sheriff’s department for 19 years and “I’ve never witnessed a single incident that resulted in so many injuries.”

Authorities said 22 people – ages 15 and older – were on the trailer at the time of the accident. Desjardins said some had minor injuries but others were more serious. All were taken from the scene in ambulances, except for the most seriously injured, who were transported by LifeFlight. The driver of the jeep also was injured.

Two LifeFlight helicopters and 12 ambulances were dispatched to the scene. The patients were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston.


Harvest Hill Farms, at 125 Pigeon Hill Road, offers a seasonal Halloween-themed hayride called The Gauntlet Haunted Night Ride, according to its website.

As part of the hayride, Desjardins said, the driver of the jeep pulling the trailer slows down at the top of the hill so people can see the haunted house.

“They jerk the trailer a bit just to get a little excitement going,” the sheriff added.

Desjardins said that because the accident occurred on private property, the State Fire Marshal’s Office has jurisdiction.

Sgt. Joel Davis of the fire marshal’s office said the investigation is still in its early stages.

“It’s dark – we’re going to be back in the daylight to look at the scene and try to figure out what happened,” he said early Sunday morning.


Davis said every passenger on the ride was injured in some way.

He said the fire marshal’s office will investigate the ride on Sunday to see if it was mechanically sound and police will reconstruct the scene of the accident.

He also said officials will review state rules and regulations to ensure that the hayride complies with Maine law.

“We’ve never really dealt with a situation like this,” he said.

A Harvest Hill Farms representative said on the business’s Facebook page that the site will be closed Sunday while authorities investigate the accident.

Patrons began posting messages about the accident on the farm’s Facebook page around 9 p.m. Saturday.


Facebook user Deb Wiles wrote: “There has just been a terrible accident there, involving a tractor pulling a wagon with people on board. Tractor tipped over. (Ten) ambulances, Life Flight, too.”

“My son and his pregnant girlfriend and a bunch of their friends were on that ride. Thank God they are okay,” Facebook user Penny Peare wrote.

The Portland Fire Department tweeted late Saturday: “Thoughts and prayers with the victims, their families, and the emergency crews operating … in Mechanic Falls.”

Later Saturday night, Harvest Hill Farms tweeted: “Emergency crews are on-site now at our Gauntlet Night Ride as there was an accident with one of the wagons.”

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