WATERVILLE — Dozens of spectators dressed in blue Monday morning at a field hockey game at Thomas College to show their support for Cassidy Charette, a 17-year-old Messalonskee High School junior fatally injured in a hayride accident over the weekend, while hundreds gathered in the evening at the Red Barn restaurant in Augusta to hold a candlelight vigil for Charette and her boyfriend, Connor Garland, another Messalonskee student who suffered injuries in the crash.

On the sidelines at the field hockey game was 16-year-old Emily Hogan, a star player on the field hockey team and one of Charette’s best friends. She was with her on Saturday and was among six Messalonskee students on the hayride that overturned injuring 22 people in Mechanic Falls.

“I wouldn’t have missed this game for the world,” said Hogan, who didn’t play but was cheering for her teammates. “Cassidy was such a good friend to me, and it’s incredible how much everyone has come together.”

A moment of silence was held before the game, and admission — which normally goes to Thomas — was going toward funds for the family of Charette and Garland, who is being treated at a Boston hospital. Police have said that it appears a mechanical malfunction in the Jeep pulling the trailer of passengers was to blame for the crash.

Hogan was taken to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston following the accident, but was discharged with a few bruises and minor swelling. She declined to talk about the specifics of what happened the night of the accident, but said that with the exception of Charette and Garland, the other students and a recent graduate of Messalonskee who was also on the hayride did not have any major injuries.

“She was so lucky,” said Louise Hogan, Emily’s mother. “It was really scary.”


Garland’s mother, Sue MacVane Garland, in a post shared on the “Help the Garland Family! Messalonskee Strong!” Facebook page set up to help the family as her son recovers from his injuries, said Monday night, “My superman is out of seven hours surgery. I am waiting to see him. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.”

Previous posts on the site indicated Connor Garland suffered a broken jaw and injury to part of his back in the accident.

Hundreds of Messalonskee students, community members and supporters gathered together Monday night in Augusta, holding a candlelight vigil at the Red Barn restaurant at the end of a previously scheduled fundraiser for the Messalonskee Project Graduation Class of 2016, Charette’s and Garland’s class.

Students, most clad in their school colors, formed a tight circle and exchanged long hugs with each other as they lit candles for their fallen classmates.

They said Charette and Garland, if they were able, would have been at the fundraiser to help, as both were known for helping and being kind to their classmates, even those they weren’t tight with.

“They’re both great people,” said Garrett Main, junior class president. “Cassidy was brilliant, at the top of the class. And her smile could light up a room. It’s so sad she’s not here. It’s not right. Connor is an athlete with a kind heart, too. He’s always looking to make someone’s day better.”


Several students left the candlelight vigil circle in tears. As they joined in a big group hug, they chanted, “1-2-3 Eagles!”

Eagles is the school’s team’s name. Both Charette and Garland were on sports teams.

So many people attended the fundaiser, from which the Red Barn donated all the proceeds, not even taking money to cover the expense of purchasing the fish, chicken and French fries, the restaurant ran out of fish about 45 minutes before the event was scheduled to end. Juliet Lounsbury, who directed cars into and out of the parking lot and who is Red Barn owner Laura Benedict’s older sister, said the restaurant had never sold out of items during a fundraiser before. She said the turnout was phenomenal and the community support shown was amazing.

In a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page Monday night, Benedict said, “Tonight’s fundraiser was the first one ever during which we ran out of haddock! The total raised, not including donations to Connor’s family and the T-shirts sold for the scholarship in Cassidy’s name, was $7,316!”

Main said the turnout for the event and the community support shown for Messalonskee students following the loss of Charette and injuries to other students was a testimony to the kind of people they are and how tragic the accident was.

On Sunday, members of the field hockey and girls soccer team gathered at the high school. “They talked and shared and cried just to show support for each other,” said Louise Hogan. “The talk was that we are here for each other, and we’ll get through this together.”


There were no classes on Monday because of the Columbus Day holiday, but the school had counseling services available throughout the day. Several churches in the area also had support available for community members.

Mount Merici Academy, a Catholic elementary and middle school where both Charette and Hogan had gone to school, was planning a candlelight vigil for Tuesday evening.

“She was just always happy. She was an incredible person,” said Bethany Hammond, 15, a friend of Charette’s who was a grade below her at Mount Merici. “I never saw her without a smile on her face. She was really hardworking at everything. She put a lot of time into her work, her friendships, just everything.”

“It’s sad. It’s really hit the community pretty hard,” said Holly Manson, of Oakland, a parent of two field hockey players. She was handing out stickers that said “Messo Strong” at the entrance of the game, the same stickers that all the players had put on their field hockey sticks.

“We just wanted to come together and show our support,” said Manson, whose husband is also an alum of Messalonskee.

Dylan Jones, 17, a junior on the lacrosse team, was watching the game nearby with friends who were also dressed in blue. He said he was friends with both Charette and Garland and that they were both great people. Charette was one of the top 10 students in the class, he said.


“They were always smiling and laughing,” said Jones. “The turnout today isn’t just for the field hockey game. We want the families to know that we’re behind them, and if they need anything, any one of us is willing to do whatever.”

At the end of the game, which Messalonskee won 4-2, Skowhegan players presented Hogan with flowers, a card and lots of hugs. “We heard about the loss of Cassidy and that Connor was in the hospital and just wanted to pay our respects,” said 15-year-old Haley Thebarge, a Skowhegan player.

“Today wasn’t really about the competition,” said Leslie Hogan. “It’s the same thing if there are injuries or other accidents. Everyone comes together and supports each other.”

Junior Stormi Binette, outside the Red Barn Monday evening, said Charette and Garland were “nice to everybody, all of the time.”

Sherri Reardon, parent of a Messalonskee student, sat with family members and hugged other students as they passed by their table. The Sidney resident said she attended Monday’s fundraiser because “I have a kid in this school. This is my community.”

Ron Blaisdell, of Augusta, said he has known Benedict for years, and said he was not at all surprised she would host the fundraiser. Seeing the roughly 100-foot-long line of people out the restaurant door about midway through the event, Blaisdell said he planned to write a check to support the cause, even though he wasn’t going to wait to get food.


“I’m a Cony guy, but I wanted to come over and support this. It’s a good cause,” he said.

Students Monday also collected donations for Garland’s family and held a 50/50 raffle to benefit the Class of 2016 Project Graduation, the Cassidy Charette Scholarship Fund and the Garland family. The winner of the 50/50 raffle donated the prize winnings back to the causes.

Cars filled the Red Barn’s parking lots, a field on the back of the property, and lined both sides of Riverside Drive as students, lined up on the roadside, encouraged motorists to come in.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm



Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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