Androscoggin County prosecutors have dropped a criminal charge of reckless conduct against a mechanic who worked at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls at the time of a fatal hayride crash in October 2014.

The crash at the farm killed 17-year-old Cassidy Charette and injured several other people.

Last month, a Sagadahoc County jury acquitted the driver of the Jeep pulling the hayride, 56-year-old David Brown, of South Paris, of a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct.

The dismissal of the reckless conduct charge against the mechanic, 39-year-old Philip Theberge, of Norway, was filed Friday in Androscoggin County court.

Prosecutors also dismissed two of four criminal charges against Harvest Hill Farms, said Michael Whipple, the farm’s attorney. They dropped charges of aggravated assault and reckless conduct, Whipple said, but the farm still faces a trial on charges of manslaughter and driving to endanger.

The farm’s owner, Peter Bolduc, was not charged in connection with the fatal crash. The farm has filed for bankruptcy since the crash.


Beyond the criminal charges, Brown, Bolduc and Theberge still are named in a wrongful-death civil lawsuit filed by Charette’s family.

At Brown’s trial, he argued that the brake failure in the Jeep that led to the accident was sudden and unexpected, while prosecutors tried to persuade the jury that he recklessly disregarded the risk that the old vehicle would fail. Bolduc, who testified at Brown’s trial, also said he was not aware of mechanical problems with the Jeep before the accident.

Theberge’s attorney says prosecutors had told him they planned to offer his client immunity in exchange for testifying at the trial of Harvest Hill Farms, which is scheduled for December, according to The Associated Press.

Theberge’s attorney, Adam Sherman, did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Androscoggin County District Attorney Andrew Robinson, who is attending a prosecutors’ conference in Bar Harbor this week, did not respond to email and voice mail requests for comment on Tuesday.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: