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Family of teen killed in hayride crash settle lawsuit against farm owner

17-year-old Cassidy Charette was killed when a Jeep pulling a hay ride trailer lost control, went down a hill, hit a tree, and rolled at the Haunted Gauntlet Hay Ride in Mechanic Falls in October 2014. (Contributed Photo)

OAKLAND (WGME) -- The family of a teenager killed on a hayride has settled a civil lawsuit against the farm owner, driver and mechanic for an undisclosed amount of money.

Cassidy Charette was a junior at Messalonskee High School when she died, but her legacy lives on in the community. Her family said the money from that settlement will go toward the charity created in her name.

"I hold onto just about everything I can," said her brother, Colby Charette.

When Charette thinks about his big sister, it's the little things he remembers most.

"Goodnight talks we used to have before bed, because our rooms were across from each other, or we'd go out to lunch sometimes, things like that," he said,.

Nothing can bring Cassidy back, but this week her family took another step forward, settling a wrongful death lawsuit against those involved with the haunted hayride that crashed while she and two dozen others were on it in October 2014.

"This was a situation that was really just a tragedy that was waiting to happen," said Jodi Nofsinger, the family's attorney.

Nofsinger said the owner of Harvest Hill Farm, the driver and mechanic have all been held accountable.

"The towing capacity of this Jeep was grossly outweighed by what it was towing," she said.

The settlement funds will help support the ShineOnCass Foundation, a non-profit charity aimed at inspiring young people to give back to their communities the way Cassidy did.

"No amount of money is ever going to make this better, but what it will do is it will allow us to spread that light farther and brighter," said Shawna Oliver, who was a friend of Cassidy's and now sits on the foundation's board.

So far, they've established a Big Brothers, Big Sisters mentoring program in Cassidy's honor and an annual scholarship at the high school.

The hope is to touch even more lives.

"I'd love to see it continue to grow," said Charette. "I'd love to see ShineOnCass bumper stickers all over the country."

The Charette family hopes to work with legislators to r-visit "Cassidy's Law," which would require farm equipment used for hayrides and similar attractions to first be inspected by the state.


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