BATH — A woman who worked at Harvest Hill Farm the night of a fatal haunted hayride two years ago testified Friday that the driver of the Jeep pulling the flatbed trailer that crashed into trees had told her the brakes were “soft.”

Keri Dekastrozza was called to the witness stand in Sagadahoc County Superior Court on the second day of the trial of David Brown, 56, of South Paris. He is charged with reckless conduct stemming from an Oct. 11, 2014, crash that killed a 17-year-old girl from Oakland and injured many of the hay wagon’s 22 spectators on the The Gauntlet haunted hayride at the farm on Route 26 in Mechanic Falls.

Dekastrozza said she rode in the Jeep CJ5 driven by Brown along The Gauntlet loop the night before it crashed. Roughly 20 customers had climbed onto a trailer hitched to the back of the Jeep, she said.

At one point during the ride, Brown told Dekastrozza “the brakes felt a little soft,” but, she said, “he didn’t seem concerned.”

The next night, Brown lost control of the Jeep while driving down a steep hill along The Gauntlet loop. The trailer careened into a tree, spilling its riders. The Jeep also hit a tree, injuring Brown.

Shortly after the incident, Dekastrozza, who lived at the farm, shared with some of the other farm workers what Brown had told her about the brakes the previous night. When an investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal asked her whether Brown had told her anything about the brakes before the crash, she said he hadn’t. She explained Friday that she had been afraid that anything she told investigators “was going to go against David.”

During cross-examination Friday, Dekastrozza said she hadn’t worried about her safety and, in fact, wanted to get back on the Jeep and ride with Brown through The Gauntlet even after he had told her about the brakes being “soft,” she said.

Brown’s attorney, Allan Lobozzo, said Thursday during opening statements that his client didn’t remember remarking on the feel of the Jeep’s brakes in comments to Dekastrozza. If he had questioned the quality of the braking that night, Lobozzo said, Brown likely would have been seeking to scare Dekastrozza because all of the farm’s employees who worked The Gauntlet were charged with the task of trying to frighten the customers for fun.

Dekastrozza’s statement is the only evidence given by any of the prosecutor’s witnesses in two days of testimony that suggests Brown vocalized his awareness of a problem with the Jeep’s brakes before the fatal crash.

Several state witnesses, including an engineer who serves as a consultant in accident reconstruction, said Friday that a professional driver like Brown (who holds a commercial driver’s license) should have expressed concern about the brakes on the Jeep. A Maine State Police inspector, who performed a vehicle autopsy after the crash, said there would only have been one inch of resistance in the brake pedal at the time of the crash.

David York said anyone familiar with the Jeep’s operating performance would have recognized the brakes were faulty.

Brown is expected to say next week when he takes the witness stand that there was no problem with the Jeep’s brakes until he started down the hill where the crash occurred.

Lobozzo said Brown will testify that he experienced complete brake failure when the pedal went to the floor while driving down the steep pitch.

But York said there had been no “catastrophic event” with the braking system on the Jeep that would have caused brake failure that night.

“I found no hydraulic leaks anywhere in the system” that would explain a sudden loss of brakes, he said.

York said the Jeep had been “unsafe, period” due to many factors, including old brake fluid that was contaminated with water. The rear brakes, which had air in the system as well as missing and seized parts, didn’t work. The parking brake, sometimes called an emergency brake, also was nonfunctional, he said.

York likened the Jeep to a .38-caliber pistol used in Russian Roulette. An accident “was bound to happen,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, it’s when,” he said.

Christopher Stanford, an investigator at the state Fire Marshal’s Office, testified that he interviewed Brown after the crash. Brown told him he had driven The Gauntlet route three times the night of Oct. 11, 2014. During the third loop, a tire on the trailer went flat. He said he swapped out that trailer for another one and hitched it to the Jeep. That was the trailer that crashed.

Wade Bartlett, an engineer hired by the state, said Friday that the brake pedal likely would have felt “a little mushy” because there was air in the brake lines.

Asked by Androscoggin County Deputy District Attorney James Andrews whether a commercial driver would be likely to detect that, Bartlett said, “I would expect so, yes.”

Had the Jeep been in good working order the night of the crash, it would have been “at the edge of its capabilities” in towing that trailer loaded with people and hay bales down that steep slope, he said.

He said the poor condition of the brakes contributed to their inability to slow the rig on the fatal descent.

Bartlett said he didn’t doubt Brown’s account that he depressed the brake pedal all the way.

“That it went to the floor — I have no doubt,” Bartlett said.

But he said there was no indication something in the braking system had suddenly changed.

“What was wrong” with the brakes during the crash “was wrong the whole night,” he said.

Having only one inch of resistance in the pedal “was just barely enough for this hill, until it wasn’t enough,” Bartlett said.

Although Mechanic Falls is in Androscoggin County, the trial was moved to Bath by Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy because of pretrial publicity.

The trial for farm mechanic Philip Theberge, 39, of Norway, is expected to be held at Lincoln County Superior Court in Wiscasset in December. He is charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct.

Harvest Hill Farm’s trial is scheduled for November in Wiscasset. The farm faces charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, driving to endanger and reckless conduct.

Peter Bolduc Jr., owner of the farm and The Gauntlet ride, was not indicted on criminal charges stemming from the crash.

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