Fatal hayride accident in Mechanic Falls draws call for oversight... This is a Major Issue and we will expose the truth.

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Spotlight on hayride regulations following deadly Maine crash

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Hayrides not regulated by state or federal authorities

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    Take A Good Look At This Human Life That Was Taken From Us Due To Gross Negligence!  and You can Quote us!

    "What Would She Have Become If She Was Still Alive"
    We Regulate "Homemade Cupcakes" But Not Dangerous Hayrides?
    The Best Articele And This Organization For News Needs To Be Nominated For An News Award. 

    Fatal hayride accident in Mechanic Falls draws call for oversight

     


    Trial lawyer suggests fatal hayride wagon too heavy

     

    LEWISTON — The Jeep pulling a hayride trailer that overturned, resulting in one death and many injuries Saturday, was ill-equipped to tow the trailer, according to a lawyer who specializes in cases involving hayride victims.

    Jeffrey Reiff of Philadelphia wrote in a website posting that the 1979 Jeep CJ5 had a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. Assuming that the hayride passengers, numbering as many as 30, weighed 100 pounds on average, the Jeep would have been pulling more than 3,000 pounds, including the weight of the trailer, Reiff wrote.

    He added, "For a vehicle of such an advanced age, the types and frequency of maintenance performed is essential to know."

    Cassidy Charette, 17, of Oakland died from injuries suffered in the crash; 22 others suffered injuries, including broken bones and head injuries. As of Thursday evening, at least one of the injured people was still in the hospital.

    Connor Garland, 16, of Belgrade was released from Boston Children’s Hospital, the Morning Sentinel of Waterville reported Thursday night.

    A Maine Medical Center spokeswoman said that hospital’s staff was still treating one victim who was in satisfactory condition.

    Maine State Police continued Thursday to investigate the accident at Harvest Hill Farm in Mechanic Falls.

    The Jeep that was towing the trailer had not yet been inspected by investigators, who continued to interview witnesses, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said.

    Police have not said whether the Jeep was modified to tow heavier loads or whether the trailer involved had its own braking system.

    Reiff noted in his website posting that in 1981 the CJ5 was rated as having the highest rollover crash rate by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That rating was based on the vehicle's narrow wheel base and high center of gravity.

    In a phone conversation Thursday, Reiff said that while he had no reason to believe Maine State Police would not do a thorough investigation, he thought it would be best to also have an independent investigation of the accident.

    "I would be willing to bet, based on my experience and from what I've read, that the towing capacity was overloaded and it was exceeded," Reiff said. "And that's assuming everything is in perfect shape, and I don't know what the shape of that vehicle was."

    Reiff said he has been involved in litigating hayride and other amusement ride accidents for more than 30 years, but he's not looking to profit from this tragedy.

    He said he wants to see the state and federal governments do something about a dangerous situation that they, so far, have chosen to ignore.

    "Is the fed doing something about this?" Reiff asked. "No. Is your state Legislature doing something about it? No. So basically, until the regulatory loopholes are closed, it's up to guys like me and other consumer advocates out there to try and make a difference."

    Reiff said civil suits involving hayride accidents often are settled out of court by insurance companies and lawyers, moving the danger from the public eye and beyond the attention of lawmakers.

    Unlike most other amusement rides in the state, hayrides are unregulated, and those running them are not required to pass safety inspections or to hold licenses to transport people. 

    A state law passed in 2011 gave operators of agritourism some protection from lawsuits by granting them limited liability for injuries that arise from the inherent risks of visiting a farm with working machines or live animals. But the idea that anyone on a hayride assumes they are at risk of being injured in an accident seems to be a stretch, Reiff said.

    "How can you assume a risk you are not aware of?" Reiff asked. "You can only assume a risk if you know all the dangers. But if there's a hidden danger, you're screwed."

    Earlier this week another consumer advocate on trailer safety, Ron Melancon of Virginia, urged Maine lawmakers to regulate amusement-type hayrides at farms.

    On Thursday Reiff echoed that sentiment. 

    "It would be nice to see the state Legislature doing something about that in your state and every state," Reiff said.

    "There's probably not a day that goes by in the fall where there's not one (accident) happening," Reiff said. He said most are not as severe as what took place in Mechanic Falls. "You don't hear about most of them because there is no uniform reporting requirement."

    sthistle@sunjournal.com

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.




    Spotlight on hayride regulations following deadly Maine crash




    MECHANIC FALLS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Following Saturday's hayride accident at Harvest Hill Farms that killed a 17-year-old high school student, some are taking a closer look at what kind of guidelines exist for hayrides and other farm attractions.

    There are no federal regulations in place for operating hayrides. The state fire marshals office inspects and licenses mechanical amusement rides in Maine, but hayrides do not require licensing.

    An amusement accident lawyer based out of Philadelphia, Jeffrey Reiff, said the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that the number of injuries on hayrides has risen dramatically, yet the regulation and inspection of hayrides is often left to the state or local municipalities.

    "These hayrides are carrying the most precious cargo of them all - children. You would think there would be some regulation, or enforcement of regulation with teeth in it, and there's little, if any, so that's the big concern," said Reiff.

    He said that the injuries that occur on hayrides are usually serious because of the number of people on the ride and the weight and size of the equipment. In the Mechanic Falls accident, a 1979 Jeep CJ5 was pulling the hay wagon. The jeep was unable to stop on a hill and the wagon overturned, causing the passenger to fall out of the trailer wagon. Reiff said that the 1979 Jeep weighs just under 3,000 pounds and payload capacity is 1,000 pounds. Towing capacity for the vehicle is 2,000 pounds with breaks, he said.

    "Common sense tells you that if you've got a light vehicle pulling a heavily loaded trailer, that's not double wheeled and as we know, adds stability factor. There's not a secondary set of brakes. there's not a backup or safety system," said Reiff.

    One person, 17-year-old Cassidy Charette, died in the Mechanic Falls accident and two remain in the hospital. Dozens were injured on the hayride, which owners said will not operate for the rest of the fall season. Reiff said it is likely there will be a criminal investigation.

    "At first glance, it appears to me that the behavior is so egregious and reckless, just from looking at it. I want to know...was this thing overloaded? When was the last time they inspected the hitch? Were there proper tires on this vehicle? Because right now, there's a family mourning the loss of a 17-year-old girl. her classmates and friends are mourning her loss. and this accident could have easily been prevented," he said.

    Farmers aren't required to file accident reports on private property, so it's impossible for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to know how many injuries hayrides cause each year, according to Reiff.










    Hayrides not regulated by state or federal authorities

    Published: Oct 13, 2014 at 8:46 PM PDT

    SAUVIE ISLAND, Ore. – How safe are your children on a hayride at a local pumpkin patch? That question is on a lot of people's minds after two horrible accidents in other parts of the country over the weekend.

    A teenage girl was killed and more than 20 others hurt in a hayride crash in Maine on Saturday. In Idaho, another teen was hit and killed by a bus in a corn maze on Friday.

    KATU’S On Your Side Investigators looked into the safety of hayrides and discovered they are not regulated by the state or federal government.

    At the Pumpkin Patch, one of several similar businesses on Sauvie Island, KATU noticed the trailers that carry people don't have railings. They also don't have safety chains on the hitches, which are required if you're towing a trailer on a public road.

    Bob Egger, the owner of the Pumpkin Patch, says the chains aren't needed.

    "If you have chains on 'em, people will trip over 'em,” Egger said.

    Regarding the lack of railing, Egger said, “We've tried all types of stuff and the railing, we put railings on one year and kids climbed on 'em and we felt it was super unsafe."

    On a public roadway, there are a number of regulations that are enforced by the state and federal government, but on a private farm, many of those rules don't apply.

    When asked if his children are allowed on his hayrides, Egger said, "My son drives one. He's 16."

    Egger says his farm is a safe place, and that he picks tractor drivers from employees who prove to be good at the job throughout the rest of the year.

    Egger says since the Pumpkin Patch started offering hayrides in 1977, it’s served more than a million riders who haven't been hurt, though Egger admits one woman sued him four years ago. He says she jumped off a wagon and dropped the lawsuit after depositions. KATU spoke with the woman’s lawyer and he wouldn’t provide any more details.

    At a state and national level there are no government statistics on the number of hayride accidents.

    Ron Melancon, a consumer watchdog and administrator of the website, Hayridesafety.org, says based on news reports he monitors and information he’s obtained from attorneys, more than 30 people are killed and 500 injured a year in crashes involving trailers that are not properly regulated.

    "We're not gonna risk our farm,” Egger said. “That's what we'd be doing to do something unsafe."

    OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, does regulate worker safety on farms. But KATU sent them a list of seven popular local hayrides, and an OSHA spokeswoman said none of them have been inspected over the past five years. That list included hayrides at the Pumpkin Patch, Kruger’s Farm and Market and Bella Organic Farm on Sauvie Island, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Liepold Farms in Boring and Olson Farms in Damascus.



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