On the evening of Monday October 13th, 2014 auto defect and amusement park injury attorney Jeffrey Reiff was interviewed by NBC WCSH-6 regarding the tragic hayride accident at Harvest Hill Farms. On that evening a Jeep CJ5 that was pulling a heavily loaded hayride jackknifed. The trailer tumbled down the steep incline only coming to a stop after striking a tree. The accident took the life of a 17-year-old high school student, Cassidy Charette, and injured at least 22 others.
Why Aren’t We Protecting our Children?
Jeffrey Reiff poses a troubling quandary: If these vehicles are carrying our precious children, why is not more being done to regulate the industry and reign in dangerous practices? He believes that the near complete lack of regulation for hayrides throughout the United States contributes to allowing unsafe practices to continue unchecked. In this case, he believes it appears that the circumstances and practices are so egregious that a criminal prosecution is very likely.
And if the lack of regulation and safety standards was not enough, Jeffrey Reiff also draws attention to the fact that there are no reporting requirements for accidents of this type. This makes it difficult or impossible for families to make informed decisions regarding the safety of a particular hayride or tractor pull operator. Furthermore, it deprives families of the information that they could use to select a safer operator. If the CPSC or another regulatory agency were to collect this data, compile it, and make it accessible to all then families would at least be able to make informed decisions and protect their children’s health and safety.
Below, please find the full NBC interview with amusement park accident and auto defect attorney Jeffrey Reiff.
Video transcript follows:
These hayrides are carrying the most precious cargo of all: children. And yet, you would think there would be some regulation or enforcement of regulation with teeth in it and there’s little if any and that’s a big concern.
This case has all the markings of a perfect storm. We have a farm with 500 people visiting, it’s a dark night, there’s a lot of noise, there are people dressed in costumes, there’s a narrator as I understand on the hayride. You’ve got what seems to be a grossly undersized vehicle pulling a heavy trailer loaded with hay –bales of hay, blankets, twenty-four people, and people are probably screaming and excited, and it says from the stories that I’ve read, [the driver] takes a couple of jerks for excitement and then accelerates over the hill.
Now, common sense tells you that if you’ve got a light vehicle carrying a heavy trailer that is not double-wheeled, which we know adds stability factor, there’s not a secondary set of brakes, there’s no back-up or safety system, and you have the makings of an accident.
If I were the prosecutor I would be hard-pressed not to open a criminal investigation. For the reason that, at first glance, it appears to me that the behavior here was egregious and reckless. Just from looking at it I would want to know, was [the trailer] overloaded, when was the last time they inspected the hitch, were the proper tires on this vehicle because ,you know what, right now there’s a family mourning the loss of a 17-year-old girl her classmates and friends are mourning her loss and this accident could have easily been prevented.