A Halloween-themed hay ride careened down a hill in the Maine woods and crashed into a tree, fatally injuring a teenage girl and leaving more than 20 other people hurt, police said Sunday.
A 17-year-old girl died of injuries sustained when the Jeep hauling the hay wagon lost control Saturday night, state police spokesman Stephen McCausland said in a statement. Two others, a teenage boy and the driver, were hospitalized in critical condition.
Twenty other passengers were taken to hospitals for treatment.
A mechanical problem may have contributed to the accident, authorities said. State fire marshals inspect and license mechanical amusement rides in Maine, but hayrides do not require such licensing.
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The accident occurred during the Gauntlet Haunted Night Ride at Harvest Hills Farm in Mechanic Falls, about 25 miles southwest of Augusta. The farm, which also features the popular daytime attraction, Pumpkin Land, remains closed while police investigate.
The flatbed trailer was being pulled near a haunted house when it apparently missed a turn at the top of a hill, Androscoggin County Sheriff Guy Desjardins said.
“The trailer jackknifed and the Jeep went off the road,” Desjardins told the Portland Press Herald. “We’re talking about a very narrow dirt road, but extremely steep.”
He said the trailer struck a tree, throwing its passengers to the ground.
Authorities said 22 people – ages 15 and older – were on the trailer at the time of the accident. Sgt. Joel Davis of the state fire marshal’s office said every passenger on the hayride was injured in some way.
“I’ve never witnessed a single incident that resulted in so many injuries,” said Desjardins, who told the newspaper he has been with the sheriff’s department for 19 years.
He said some of the victims had minor injuries but others sustained more serious injuries to their backs, necks and limbs. Two were airlifted by helicopter and the rest transported by ambulance.
Investigators were at the scene Sunday reconstructing the accident.