A hayride operator who admitted to have birthday drinks before driving a tractor pulling a wagon that tipped could now face criminal charges, WXYZ-TV reported.
Eighteen people were on the hayride at Camp Dearborn in Milford, Mich. Sunday evening when the 27-year-old driver attempted to make a left turn, throwing every passenger to the ground. Twelve of the riders were injured, and nine adults were taken to the hospital that evening. None of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening.
The driver told police he drank an alcoholic beverage on his lunch break at a local restaurant around 11:30 a.m. before going back to work -- but then returned to the restaurant again around 2 p.m. for more drinks before returning to work at 4 p.m., CBS Radio reported. They said the man told police he only drinks off the clock and was celebrating his birthday.
Police asked the man to take a preliminary breath test, which registered 0.06 percent, Lt. Matthew Brumm of the Milford Police Department told the Detroit Free Press. It is illegal to drive in Michigan with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.
Reports from passengers and the driver differ on what caused the wagon to tip over, spilling out its passengers before righting itself. WXYZ interviewed a passenger who said the hayride operator was driving too fast (see video above). The Detroit Free Press said the driver accused passengers of moving to the left side of the wagon to throw hay at another wagon. Several riders disputed that claim to the newspaper; they said the passengers were evenly distributed across the vehicle.
Milford Police Chief Thomas Lindberg told WXYZ he sent the case to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office for review.
In 2011, Michael Hermes pled guilty to assault and operating a vehicle under the influence in an accident involving several hayride wagons in Sandusky, Ohio. Hermes drove off the road, injuring 28 people.