Driver in Fatal Maine Hayride Crash Not Guilty of Reckless Conduct

The man who was driving two years ago when a hayride crashed in Maine, killing a teenage girl and injuring 22 other people, was found not guilty of a reckless conduct charge Tuesday.

David Brown was behind the wheel of the Jeep pulling the hayride at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanics Falls in October of 2014.

The crash left 17-year-old Cassidy Charette dead.

"There are no winners here," Brown said after the verdict was announced. "I have a lot of healing to do."

Brown testified Monday that he had no prior knowledge of mechanical issues with the vehicle.

Jurors deliberated for only two hours.

"The state didn't prove its case," said juror David Hills.

Brown's defense attorney, Allan Lobozzo, said the jury ultimately realized this was a terrible accident that the driver could not have foreseen.

"This verdict won't erase the memory of that evening," said Lobozzo.

Brown said he has never been able to reach out to the Charette family, but he carries the grief of her death every day.

"If I could trade places with her right now, I would," he said. "She's a girl that I'll never know, and never forget."

The Charette family has filed a civil lawsuit against him, Harvest Hill Farm's owner and the mechanic.

In a statement, the lawyer representing the Charette family said they are not discouraged by the "not guilty" verdict in Brown's criminal trial.

"We're disappointed with the outcome, but it has absolutely no bearing on the civil case," said Jodi Nofsinger of Berman & Simmons. "We believe our wrongful death case is strong and that all the defendants will be held accountable."

There are two more criminal cases related to the hayride crash: the mechanic, Philip Theberge, and Harvest Hill Farms are facing charges. No trial dates have been set.

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