Maine Haunted Hayride Crash Kills Teenage Passenger, Injures 22 Others

A Halloween-themed haunted hayride went horribly wrong in Maine on Saturday night. The Gauntlet Haunted Night Ride, a popular attraction at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls, Maine, reportedly rushed down a wooden hill at a dangerously high speed. The haunted hayride lost control, killing one passenger and injuring 22 others.

The hayride, which consisted of a large flatbed trailer pulled by a Jeep, veered off its path and crashed into a tree, causing it to flip over. Androscoggin County Sheriff Guy Desjardins told the Portland Press Herald that the hayride may have missed a turn at the top of the hill, leading it to careen down the slope.

Desjardins said:

The trailer jackknifed and the Jeep went off the road. We're talking about a very narrow dirt road, but extremely steep.

All of the passengers, as well as the driver, on the hayride at the time of the accident were injured. "I've never witnessed a single incident that resulted in so many injuries," the sheriff said.

Among the 22 injured — all of whom were 15 years of age or older — nearly 20 victims were rushed to area hospitals. Two people, the hayride's driver and a teenage boy, were seriously injured and airlifted to medical centers. ABC affiliate WMTW reports the teenage boy was transferred to a Boston hospital.

The deceased victim is a 17-year-old girl, who fire department officials said died overnight. Her name hasn't been released.

According to WMTW, investigators believe a mechanical malfunction caused the Jeep to lose control. The Maine Fire Marshal's Office issues licenses to mechanical amusement rides, but a license was not needed for the hayride. The Portland Press Herald reports that investigators were still at the scene on Sunday, trying to piece together the events of the accident and interviewing farm employees.

A spokesperson for Harvest Hill Farms said on Sunday, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families." The farm also updated its Facebook throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning with developments on the tragic situation.

Located about 35 miles northwest of Portland, Harvest Hill Farms runs Pumpkin Land, a family venue for fall activities, and the Gauntlet Haunted Night Ride, a popular after-hours activity located at a separate venue. Both the farm's Pumpkin Land "agritainment venue," which just opened last week, and the haunted nighttime hayride will be closed on Sunday.

Images: Andrew Malone, jdj150/Flickr