Farm involved in fatal hayride crash reaches plea agreement

Photo/File
Photo/File

AUBURN, Maine (AP) " A farm charged in a Halloween-themed hayride crash that killed a teenage girl has reached a plea agreement that's expected to bring the criminal case against it to an end.

Harvest Hill Farms will plead guilty Tuesday to a charge of driving to endanger in exchange for dismissal of a more serious manslaughter charge, farm attorney Michael Whipple said Monday. The agreement calls for a $7,500 fine or donation along with restitution, which needs to be sorted out with the insurer, he said.

The October 2014 crash in the town of Mechanic Falls claimed the life of 17-year-old Cassidy Charette and injured more than 20 other people. Family members are expected to be in court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors accused the farm of allowing an unsafe vehicle to haul a wagon that careened out of control because of a brake failure, tossing riders into trees.

But the farm's owner, Peter Bolduc, denied knowing about any mechanical problems with the 1979 Jeep. He said he'd used the Jeep as his personal farm vehicle.

"My conscience is clear," he said last year. "I did not know, and I had no prior knowledge of any mechanical issues with that Jeep. None. Zero."

The driver of the Jeep was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge, and a misdemeanor charge against a mechanic was dropped last month.

The plea hearing for the farm was scheduled for Tuesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn.

While the plea agreement is expected to bring the criminal case to a close, it won't be the end of the legal proceedings.

Cassidy's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit that names Bolduc, the driver and the mechanic. The lawsuit doesn't seek a specific dollar amount in damages.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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