AUBURN — The chief prosecutor for Androscoggin County said Thursday that he expects to present witnesses to a grand jury next week who will testify about possible criminal conduct in an October haunted hayride in Mechanic Falls that turned deadly.

District Attorney Andrew Robinson declined to disclose how many witnesses he planned to call, but he said he believed it would take more than one grand jury session before a decision on criminal charges would be reached. The next grand jury is scheduled to meet in June. It is unusual for a case to be carried over from a grand jury session.

Robinson also declined to say against whom any indictments might be brought in the matter.

Last month, Robinson released a statement saying his office had reviewed hundreds of pages of investigative reports and had hired an expert to review the case for possible criminal action.

On the night of Oct. 11, a flatbed hay wagon spilled dozens of riders into the woods when the Jeep that was pulling it down a steep hill jackknifed and slammed into a tree. By the following morning, it was revealed that a 17-year-old girl from Oakland had died and nearly two dozen others were badly hurt, suffering broken bones and head, back and neck injuries.

The ride took place at a Halloween attraction called the Gauntlet at Harvest Hill Farms on Route 26. Investigators said it appeared a mechanical failure led to the rollover, in which Cassidy Charette, a student at Messalonskee High School, died of her injuries. Seriously hurt was Charette’s boyfriend, 16-year-old Connor Garland of Belgrade.


Teams of investigators from state agencies spent weeks probing the cause of the wreck. The Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office had said it planned to present findings to a grand jury in February, but that office has stretched out the length of that time frame for months.

Troopers, motor vehicle inspectors and state fire investigators inspected the 1979 Jeep CJ-5 at a local garage, after executing a search warrant. The vehicle autopsy was aimed at detecting any mechanical failure that might have occurred on the night of the crash. The towing capacity of the Jeep also was a focus of the investigation.

The results of that investigation are expected to be shared with next week’s grand jury.

Earlier in the week, state lawmakers heard testimony in committee from a state representative who is sponsoring a bill that would regulate farmers who charge for rides on their equipment.

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