Seasonal rite goes wrong as hayride wagon overturns

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 23, 2011 3:58 PM
Seasonal rite goes wrong as hayride wagon overturns

(Reuters) - An Ohio hayride operator faced drunk-driving charges on Sunday after the farm tractor he was driving veered off the road and flipped one of the wagons it was towing, injuring 28 passengers, two of them seriously.

The Ohio State Police said Michael Hermes, 47, was pulling between 60 and 80 people in two straw-filled wagons late Saturday night when he drove off the right side of a road near Sandusky, causing the rear wagon to overturn.

Most of the injured were transported to local hospitals. But two were evacuated by helicopter to a medical center in Toledo, 60 miles away.

Hermes, who was not injured in the crash, refused to take a field sobriety test, the state police said. He was arrested and booked into the Erie County Jail.

He was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, aggravated vehicular assault, open container and failure to control, the state police said. He was scheduled to appear in Sandusky Municipal Court on Tuesday.

Officials did not release the identities of any of the injured passengers. An official at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo would not disclose the condition of the two patients flown there.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)