Dozens of church youth group members hurt in hayride crash

Dozens of church youth group members hurt in hayride crashForty-four members of two different church youth groups were injured on Sunday, July 24, on Shaw Island, Washington, when the tractor that was pulling a hay-filled trailer flipped over, tossing the passengers onto the road, the Bellingham Herald reports.

According to the news source, four people sustained serious injuries and had to be flown by helicopter to area hospitals, while 10 more people were taken to hospitals in private vehicles via a Washington state ferry that transported them off the island.

The group was on the island volunteering at Our Lady of the Rock Monastery when they went on a hay ride that would have taken them to the beach, where they planned to have lunch. But on the Island's steepest hill, on a road paved with loose gravel, the tractor lost control, the media outlet stated.

"The trailer did not have brakes and was literally pushing the tractor down the hill," San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou said, adding that the trailer's front axle failed, which caused the passengers to be ejected from the flatbed trailer.

Alex Macleod, the first emergency medical technician to arrive at the accident, suspects that the crash caused serious broken bones, lacerations and sprains. The most seriously injured could not be treated at the scene and were taken to Harborview Medical Center, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and Island Hospital in Anacortes, the media outlet stated.

Nou told Seattle Weekly that although farm vehicles can be exempt from seat belt laws, because the vehicle wasn't performing farm work when the crash occurred, the exemptions may not apply.

According to the news source, an investigation is underway, as it is unclear if alcohol or drugs contributed to the accident.