When hay rides "go right," they usually involve giggling children, photo-snapping tourists, and the inhalation of diesel fumes.
When hay rides "go wrong," they apparently involve the following.
From San Juan County Sheriff's Office:
On Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 11:21 a.m., San Juan County 911 received a call of a vehicle accident on Shaw Island. Responders from Shaw Fire and EMS found a hay ride gone terribly wrong.
A farm tractor was pulling a flatbed trailer carrying approximately 50 people from at least 2 NW Washington church youth groups having a weekend retreat at Our Lady of the Rock Monastery on Shaw Island.
As hay ride traveled down Hoffman Cove Rd on a downhill grade, the trailer reportedly overpowered the tractor and began pushing it down the grade. As it gained speed and momentum, the trailer caused the tractor to jackknife. As it did, the drawbar bent and the front axle of the trailer failed, dumping the occupants off the trailer.
A total of 44 people were injured in the hay ride to hell.
The SJCSO is still conducting an investigation. It's unclear if alcohol or drugs played any role in the accident.
UPDATE: San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou provides a bit more detail on the hay ride from hell.
He says that the incident occurred on a gravel road and that the road was public.
State law prohibits people riding unsecured on a trailer or other vehicle on public roads. But Nou says there are certain exceptions for farm vehicles.
Being that the tractor wasn't performing farm work when it crashed, those exceptions may not apply.
Nou says his office is "looking closely" at the case to see if criminal charges are warranted.
A call to Our Lady of the Rock seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Given the damage to the trailer involved in the accident, it seems unlikely that the Shaw Island hay rides will continue.
Fortunately, there are much safer ways to ride hay, for those who own a riding lawn mower.