Harvest Hill Farms Accepts Plea Deal in Fatal Hayride Crash

Harvest Hill Farms has accepted a plea deal in the manslaughter case from the 2014 haunted hayride crash that injured 22 people and killed a 17-year-old girl.

While in court in Auburn, Maine, the Mechanic Falls-based corporation pleaded guilty to a driving to endanger charge in exchange for having the manslaughter charge in Cassidy Charette's death be dropped. Harvest Hill Farms will have to pay a $7,500 fine, with the majority of it going to charity.

"My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Charette family," said Harvest Hill Farms owner Peter Bolduc. "That has been and will continue to be where my heart is, and where my priorities are."

The plea deal means the company acknowledges its negligence in the brake failure that caused the hay wagon to overturn.

Prosecutors Tuesday laid out the evidence they would have presented at trial, alleging that the Jeep had faulty brakes, was not properly inspected or maintained, and carried too much weight for the wagon to handle.

Family members, friends, and other victims injured in the crash presented victim impact statements during the sentencing.

The mother of Cassidy Charette's boyfriend, Susan Garland, said her son will never be the same. He was sitting next to her on the hay wagon at the time of the crash.

"The nightmares, feeling afraid to be alone, feeling responsible for Cassidy flying out of the wagon -- Connor [Garland] has blamed himself that he couldn't do more," Susan Garland said. "As a parent, you feel helpless."

Tuesday's deal also marks the end of criminal proceedings against the farm; however, the farm still faces a civil trial brought by the victim's family.

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