Maine Fire Marshal Says Hayride Regulations Not Feasible

A working group set up after a fatal haunted hayride accident has concluded there’s little the state can do to improve the safety of hayrides and other farm-based amusements.

Maine, like many states, has no law regulating farm amusements or requiring safety inspections for hayrides, and lawmakers last year submitted several bills seeking to regulate farm rides.

But a report from a working group headed by Maine Fire Marshal Joe Thomas and Maine State Police Chief Robert Williams concluded that it’s not feasible to create new regulations because enforcement would require specialized inspectors skilled enough to evaluate a broad range of farm equipment, the Sun Journal reported.

The group agreed to create a list of safety recommendations for those who wish to conduct hayride amusement rides. There are between 250 to 400 motorized farm rides in Maine each year.

The scrutiny followed the 2014 death of a 17-year-old girl at Harvest Hill Farm in Mechanic Falls.

The hayride, called the Gauntlet Haunted Night Ride, went out of control and overturned while traveling downhill, killing Cassidy Charette and injuring about 20 other riders.

The district attorney brought charges including manslaughter against Harvest Hill Farm and misdemeanor charges against the driver and a mechanic.

Cassidy’s mother, Monica Charette of Oakland, says she’s let down by the group’s findings, but is glad they brought awareness to the potential dangers of an activity that seem harmless.

Charette says she still believes there should be a new law stemming from the accident.