Officials: Hayrides Not Regulated by Maine | NECN
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Officials: Hayrides Not Regulated by Maine

Sgt. Joel Davis with the Maine Fire Marshal's Office responded to the continuing investigation into the crash that killed a teen and injured 22 other people in Mechanic Falls.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Monday, Oct. 13, 2014)

    Pumpkin Land is back in business a day and a half after a deadly hayride accident took the life of an Oakland, Maine, teen and injured 22 other people.

    But the accident has raised questions about the safety and oversight of hayride operations around the state.

    Seventeen-year-old Cassidy Charette died from injuries sustained after the Jeep pulling the tractor she was riding had a mechanical failure and careened into a stand of trees.

    Five people remain hospitalized with broken bones; three are at Central Maine Medical Center, one is at Maine Medical Center and one is at Boston Children's Hospital.

    On Columbus Day, carloads of families pulled in to enjoy the tail end of the holiday weekend at Pumpkin Land.

    Most had only mild concerns about the accident.

    "I don't think we'll be going on a hayride, but the kids are just going to play around," said Tim Coombs, who was visiting with his wife and two young daughters.

    "It was horrible, but it doesn't mean anything else horrible is necessarily going to happen," said his wife, Amanda Coombs.

    Following the accident, the owners decided to shut down the Gauntlet Ride, which was the after-dark ride Charette and her friends were riding.

    "Pretty much, for us, it was a no-brainer to just not do the operations this year, for the rest of the year," said Scott Lansley, spokesman for Harvest Hill Farms. "Out of respect for the families."

    But what about the hundreds of daytime hayrides Pumpkin Land and many other farms in Maine operate each fall?

    "All I can say is that Pumpkin Land is regulated by the Fire Marshal's Office, so if there's any question about the equipment or permitting, you can call them and check with them," said Lansley.

    But in fact, the Maine Fire Marshal's office does not regulate or inspect hayrides.

    "Haunted hayrides are not licensed by the state of Maine," Sgt. Joel Davis of the Fire Marshal's Office told reporters who gathered at the farm after the accident.

    He said they came to Pumpkin Land to investigate the accident at the request of the District Attorney's office.

    Fire Marshal Joe Thomas confirmed that their office only has oversight of mechanical rides, such as Ferris wheels and roller coasters.

    "All I can say is when we go to these things, we have to take our own initiative and make sure what we're going on looks appropriately," said Sgt. Davis.

    In other words, people ride at their own risk.

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