AUGUSTA — The family of an Oakland teen who died in a hayride accident in 2014 said they were disappointed with the findings of a legislative working group that was set up to examine ways to regulate farm amusement rides.

Cassidy Charette, 17, died Oct. 11, 2014, when a trailer she was riding on in a haunted hayride at Harvest Hill Farms’ Pumpkin Land on Route 26 in Mechanic Falls overturned. The driver of the late-model Jeep towing the wagon lost control of the vehicle on a downhill section of the ride.

Another 21 people on the wagon were hurt, and a number were taken to local hospitals with serious injuries.

“We are disappointed in the findings of the stakeholders,” Charette’s mother, Monica Charette, said in a statement issued by the family’s lawyer, Jodi Nofsinger of Lewiston.

While Charette’s family has retained attorneys, they have not filed a civil lawsuit against the owners of the farm or the operator of the Jeep.  

“We are pleased that the conversation brought important awareness to the potential dangers of seemingly harmless activities where safety should be a reasonable expectation,” the statement read in part. “There should be a Cassidy’s Law if it could spare even one life and one family from this experience.”

Monica Charette said her family’s focus remained “on the love and light surrounding Cassidy and our community.”

Rep. Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, who was among the lawmakers seeking legislation to regulate hayrides, said he, too, wished more could be done, but he also understood the complexities that would be involved if the state attempted to regulate the activity. He said many worried that over-regulating hayrides would result in harmless rides “out to the orchard to pick apples” being unable to continue.

Monica Charette said her daughter’s memory was being kept alive, regardless.

“Our community is keeping her spirit alive and shining her light in more ways than we can count,” the statement read. “In the past 18 months, people have helped build ‘Cassidy’s Kitchen’ for kids attending Hart-to-Hart Farm; started a service program of ‘Cassidy’s Kids’ at Mount Merici Academy and support youth mentoring at ‘Bowl for Cassidy’s Sake.'”

She added, “This month, a second Big Brothers Big Sisters program will open at the Alfond Youth Center in Cassidy’s honor, changing the lives of 140 kids.”

The statement continued: “Cassidy is not in this report. She cannot be reduced to words or works. Her spirit is too big and her light is infinite. The words, ‘Shine On Cass’ have become a call to action for people to help others, spread kindness and shine their own light. She is proud. We are so grateful. And we hope it never ends.”

In March, the working group, headed by Maine State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas, issued a report saying there was little the state could do to regulate the safety of farmyard amusement rides. In 2015, lawmakers submitted at least six bills aimed at regulating hayride safety, which instead resulted in a study of the activity in Maine.

Among other things, the report noted that the state lacked the resources or the expertise to inspect and license the more than 300 hayride events each year in Maine that feature a wide range of terrain and hundreds of different towing vehicles, wagons and trailers.

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