You might be planning a trip to a local farm for a hayride this weekend, but how safe are these rides?
A tragic accident in Maine is just the most recent in a string of fatal hayride accidents that have become all too common. On October 11, a hayride flipped over killing a 17-year-old high school student and injuring over 20 other people.
The accident occurred during a Gauntlet Haunted Hayride at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls, Maine. According to initial reports, a mechanical problem with the 1979 Jeep CJ5 that was pulling the hayride trailer caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, sending it down a steep hill and slamming into a tree. Investigators were inspecting the Jeep to determine the exact cause of the malfunction, along with calculating the combined weight of the passengers to determine if overloading of the trailer was a contributing factor.
Cassidy Charette, a 17-year-old junior at Messalonskee High School, died from head injuries as a result of the accident. She was with a group of high school friends who visit Harvest Hills Farm every year. Among them was her boyfriend, 16-year-old Connor Garland, who suffered multiple fractures and was being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital.
This was not the only fatal hayride accident over the weekend. On October 10, an 18-year-old playing the part of a zombie was killed when he fell under the wheels of a bus. The riders of the bus had paid to shoot at attacking “zombies” with paintball guns. Jeremy T. McSpadden, Jr., playing the part of a zombie, leaped out from his hiding place as the bus approached. However, as he ran towards the bus, he stumbled and fell under the rear wheels.
Other hayride accidents within the last year include:
- In October, 2013, nine people were hospitalized when a tractor-pulled hayride overturned in Milford, Michigan.
- In July, 2013, eleven children in Molino, Florida were taken to the hospital after the arm of the trailer used for their hayride broke, causing the trailer to crash into nearby trees.
- In June, 2013, a hayride at an anniversary party overturned causing eight people to be hospitalized.
In most states, hayrides are not subject to safety regulations. Rhode Island appears to be the only state that requires a permit to operate hayrides. Laws in South Carolina and Texas mention the need for permits, but there are no clear regulations regarding requirements. In Tennessee, people participating in hayrides are specifically exempted from wearing seat belts. Other states, including Connecticut and Wyoming, allow people to ride in an open-bed pickup or flatbed truck, an action normally prohibited, if they are on a hayride.
In Maine and at least 14 other states, operators must display warning signs of the dangers of the ride. They must also state that the operators aren’t liable for injury or death.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of another, contact an experienced personal injury attorney from the Tatum Law Firm today for a free consultation.