AUBURN — The chief prosecutor for Androscoggin County says he expects to present witnesses to the grand jury next week, who will testify about possible criminal conduct in the haunted hayride that turned deadly last fall in Mechanic Falls.

District Attorney Andrew Robinson declined to disclose how many witnesses he would call, but said it would take more than one grand jury session before a decision on criminal charges would be reached, according to the Associated Press.

The accident Oct. 11 at Harvest Hills Farm killed 17-year-old Cassidy Charette of Oakland and injured more than 20 others.

Authorities have said it appears that a mechanical problem caused the Jeep towing a wagon full of passengers to crash down a hill in the woods and slam into a tree.

The announcement comes as the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee considers legislation to regulate hayrides and similar conveyances as it does amusement park rides. The proposed legislation could require that any hayride or similar attraction be licensed, or that the vehicles involved receive some inspection or permit.

Some legislators said the rules should apply only to rides that customers pay for, rather than free rides, such as wagon rides to pick-your-own orchards, for example.


Charette’s family has retained legal counsel, Jodi Nofsinger and Daniel Kagan of the law firm Berman & Simmons in Lewiston.

It is too soon to know whether the regulations under discussion would have prevented the crash that killed Charette, Kagan said.

“I applaud the effort to establish, and enforce, safety rules to keep everyone in our community safe as we go through our daily lives. But regulations alone are not enough,” he said. “In order for everyone in our community to feel safe, the community must see that those who choose to put others at risk are accountable when things go bad, or worse, as they did here … accountable to the state, for violating safety rules, and they are accountable to the victims who bear the brunt of the safety rule violations most directly.”

Regulations are important because they establish minimum safety rules, Kagan said.

“But regulations augment, rather than replace, competence and common sense, and – as we see too frequently, such as in Portland’s recent tragedies involving rental property – the existence of codes and regulations is no guarantee that they will be followed,” Kagan said, referring to the Nov. 1 fire on Portland’s Noyes Street that killed six young adults.

The bill to increase the safety of amusement rides was sponsored by Rep. Robert Nutting, R-Oakland. Nutting’s bill would give the commissioner of public safety authority to establish rules regulating the rides.

State Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas told the committee that almost 100 businesses in the state offer hayrides, with many of them running multiple vehicles.

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