MILFORD (WWJ) – A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a Highland Township man who police say is responsible for a hayride accident that sent nine people to the hospital.
The 28-year-old man, whose name hasn’t been released, was driving a tractor pulling a wooden trailer that tipped over last Sunday — sending riders flying.
Milford Police Chief Tom Lindberg said the warrant is for reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor. If convicted, the driver could face up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
According to a police report, the man blamed the accident on riders whom he claimed refused to stay seated and, against his instructions, insisted on congregating on one side of the wagon.
However, multiple witnesses told police that passengers were seated evenly on both sides and were not standing or moving around when the trailer tipped.
Hayride passenger Laura Lubeck told officers at the scene that she thought the driver was going too fast at the time of the accident.
“Mrs. Lubeck stated she hit her head on the ground when she fell out of the trailer and she had a bloody nose but it had since stopped. I observed dried blood on her face,” the officer wrote.
Passenger Adrienne Yoches, who was riding with her two young children, told police that the driver was “flying” and took a turn way too fast in what she thought was an attempt to catch up with another hayride.
Yoches had minor abrasions to her hands. Her kids were uninjured, but Yoches’ wedding ring was damaged and she lost the diamond.
Police said the driver smelled of alcohol and eventually admitted to drinking beer, mixed drinks and a shot “off the clock” in the hours before the accident, “because it was his birthday.”
A preliminary breath test administered at the scene revealed he had a blood alcohol content of .06 percent — which is under Michigan’s legal limit of .08.
There were 16 people on aboard the trailer at the time of the accident. Nine adults were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. Other riders were treated at the scene.
Lubeck said she “was screaming” and “terrified the whole time.”
“I landed face first hitting dirt a few times. Bruised from neck to ankle on my left side. I had a 4 and a 5-year-old grandchildren on that wagon that went flying out of their boots! My grown daughter got hit in the back of her head with the bench that broke. It was the scariest thing ever,” Lubeck posted on Facebook. “My husband was transported to the hospital in an ambulance and got checked out for a concussion. Some people broke collarbones, and others who I work with I am still not sure how they are. Broken bones and hurt children. Shame on the driver!”
The incident touched off a debate on social media as to whether or not Camp Dearborn’s hayrides are dangerous; with some people saying they were frightened or felt a driver had been reckless in the past.
The tractor driver has been notified of the warrant and is expected to be arraigned within the next few days. His name will be released at that time.
Camp Dearborn is located in Milford but is operated by the city of Dearborn.