Attorney: Unfinished road work caused hay-ride crash

An attorney says unfinished construction work on Patten Tract Road caused Saturday's hay-ride crash that left 28 people injured.
Emil Whitis
Oct 28, 2011


An attorney says unfinished construction work on Patten Tract Road caused Saturday's hay-ride crash that left 28 people injured.

Erie County workers were working on the road Thursday, placing fill dirt along a 7-inch drop-off at the shoulder of the road.

“I think the fact that they’re out there now repairing the road speaks volumes,” said Troy Wisehart, the attorney representing Michael Hermes, 47, of Oxford Township, who was charged with aggravated vehicular assault, open container, failure to control and refusing to take a breathalyzer test.

Hermes was driving a tractor pulling two hay-ride trailers full of people when the rear trailer overturned, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Hermes refused to take a breathalyzer test at the scene, but troopers obtained a warrant to get a blood sample from him to determine if he was driving while intoxicated.

His wife, Kristi Hermes, 46, was charged with tampering with evidence because she tried to hide beer bottles at the crash scene, troopers said.

Want to read what Erie County engineer Jack Farschman has to say about the Patten Tract Road project? Pick up a copy of Friday's Register.



....and Hermes took that road every day and knew of the low shoulder and that the construction of the road was not complete.  Could it have been the swerving from side to side while tipping a brew that added to the accident.  When you swerve too far to the right with overloaded wagons and a tire goes off the road whose fault is that?  Good thing it wasn't a person walking on the side of the road or they would have been hit also. I do believe they call it failure to control.  GUILTY, you were the driver!  One more thing, did he have a chauffeur's license?


 lol, the roads fault. there is no way it was driving a tractor with two trailers, full of people, at night, after drinking.

I Judge you

Waiting on the B.A.C. results, I hope it comes back clean.


Sorry your honor! I couldn't see the ditch because my wife almost knocked over my beer when i run over a big canyon pothole! So when i went to save the beer cooler that was strapped to the front of my tractor, that's when the 6th wagon of caged people fell into the ditch that the township is responsiple to keep maintained!   NOT GUILTY YOUR HONOR!     

Nuh ugh!  Really?


He was drunk. PERIOD!


Okay, there were uneven edges on the road. But here's a clue for drivers on all such highways: If you DON'T SWERVE OFF THE ROAD, the edges won't affect you! Duh. As far as I can tell, the road may have contributed to the severity of the accident, but the accident itself would never have happened if the driver hadn't run off said road in the first place.

Erie Countian

I drive Patten Tract Road everyday because I live out in that area and SO does Mr. Hermes, so he really should have been VERY familiar with the situation. Patten Tract is actually wider than ever after the repaving and the EDGE LINES had been freshly painted well before the hayride accident and there is at least a foot or more of pavement PAST the edge lines before the road edge drops off. I'm not defending the county, because I myself have been wondering when they would finish filling in along the edges. I was hoping it would be before any slick road conditions occured, but I didn't figure I'd have any problem before the edge was filled if I was driving carefully. There were piles of dirt already in the county's road construction staging area on Patten Tract before the accident, so that leads me to believe they were about to do the fill in job. Unfortunately they didn't get to work on it before the hayride. Having said that , I don't see how someone who should have already been VERY aware of the road edge situation and who was responsible for the safety of so many could have driven off the side of the road, especially in the long, arrow-straight stretch of Patten Tract Road where the accident occured. Certainly leads one to believe Mr. Hermes was indeed driving under the influence.



Of course Wisehart is going to hang his hat on the drop off of the road. Let's be realistic, it's tragic that all those people were injured and even if they brought alcohol of their own in the wagon the fact still remains Hermes was intoxicated while driving the tractor period!! If in fact the Mason Jar ,that Hermes's own supplied the alcohol, well that's another twist in this scenario. Another scenario would be chartering a bus to a Cleveland's football game, drinks are served on the bus for the passengers and the driver of the bus ( who is supposed to be sober) drives off the birm of the road causing the bus to flip over and people get injured, does this mean no one takes responsibility? The driver is responsible for the passengers regardless if it's in a bus or on a hay wagon, sober or intoxicated he was driving!!! It stands to reason that Hermes pled not guilty, since any insurance will be null and void since the tractor is to be used for specific farm use not for hauling intoxicated people and having an intoxicated driver driving people through the fields and on an open roadway. Another note should be as to why his his wife was charged with a felony for trying to toss the beer in the cornfield. The legalities and law suits that stem from this will be alarming.

The Hermes' have alot to worry about other than a unfinished shoulder of a roadway. Now, were they properly insured for such a event. Then there is attempted conspiracy by Mrs. Hermes. Possibly illegal use of farming equipment on public roadways. Possibly improperly marked or identified farming vehicles. Possibly improperly supervised passengers. Failure to prevue the route for size and safety. This was a 'Perfect Storm' of events that went wrong. This should be a 'slam dunk' for the law enforcement community invenstigating this accident. I'm sure there is much more to be taken to the County Prosecutor.  


Tell me, CAPNTIM50?  Are you the prosecutor?  Or the judge?  Or the person who gets to level the charges? Or even the voice of reason?  Or just someone with an axe to grind?  You have seen all the evidence I take it?

It seems to me you are the chief drum beater here for lets just go directly to sentencing.  You seem to have all the charges you want down pat.  And all he answers. 

Lets skip the trial and go straight to the sentencing phase.  How about life in prison without the possiblity of parole?  Would that be acceptable?  Or maybe that isn't sufficient in your mind?  Perhaps te death penalty would be more to your liking because heaven knows you have enough charges listed here to fill a law book. 

What is your major problem?  Did it ever occur to you that these people feel badly about what happened?  Maybe, just maybe they never intemded that anyone get hurt? No, I don't think that matters to you. 

You just go ahead and beat that drum. Point out the obvious and tell us all how awful these people are and how terrible the situation is and how the Hermes should be punished.  How culpable they are alone for this. 

But at the end of the day, do you feel better about you?   I certainly hope so because if you ever make a mistake or have something awful happen to you, I hope you are not met with the same shameful lack of consideration you have given them.  Nor will you be judged before all the evidence is in.  I hope there isn't someone out there just like you who is listing all your shortcomings for all of us

Then again???




I had to laugh going home the other night..  Finally!! big orange low shoulder signs popped up after more than a month with nothing being done on the road.  Also, the skinny orange barrels.  This should have been done after the paving was completed.  Now they are filling in along the road.  Is someone trying to cover their behind?  Seems to me someone dropped the ball at the county.




a chauffeur license no longer exhists... I guess He wouldn't have on.  He had smv and flashing lights, what is required, to prevent the greatest hazard of being hit from behind.  Each person on the wagon should have been tested for public intox, before you go pointing fingers.  Each is responsible for their actions, plenty of blame to spread around.  pray for the injured and stressed...



i pull doubles for a living and if the back trailer was loaded heavier then the front it will do nothing but wiggle down the road thus it may have caused it to drop off the edge...........always has to be heavy trailer in the lead !!


I don't know these ppl, but you all have him, investigated, tried and convicted so lets just jump to the sentencing shall we?  

If it is a problem with the road and it had anything to do with this tagedy I will feel more than sorry for the Hermes family. 

If not, then I will stand beside those who say he is guilty.  But I still want to see all the information before hanging this guy out to dry for all this and her too. 

I wouldn't want you guys sitting on MY jury.  You all make up your minds way too quickly and you do so before you hear all the evidence. Guilty before you hear it all!  Lets shoot him now, or hang them both!

WOW.  How sad is that?


@Nobody cares....THANKYOU!! Anyone that has ever driven a tractor with not 1 but 2 overloaded trailers knows that at a certain speed they WILL start swerving no matter if the driver was drinking or not! No he should not of been drinking, but this could of happened even if he wasn't drinking.


How long does it take to get the BAC results?

Erie Countian

re 1outsider: You're right! It's funny how those "low shoulder" signs just went up on Monday, BUT the orange warning posts on the curves of the road were up BEFORE the accident, along with the painted edge lines that  I mentioned below. Hermes should have been well aware of ALL of  this before the hayride.

Julie R.

This isn't really funny but considering that nobody was seriously injured this could have been on America's Funniest Home Videos. A bunch of drunks out there having themselves a good 'ole time on a hayride when all of a sudden it tips over and they all go flying into the cornfield. And then there's Kristi Hermes pitching beer bottles into the cornfield..............sorry, but I can't help but laugh when I picture it.


Does he even have a commercial license with a passenger endorsement to be haulling that many people?


so, that explains the drinking! 


Without commenting specifially on the this case or the people involved, generally speaking:

1)  Roads are always imperfect and road work will never be "finished" any more than house cleaning will.

2)  Drunks will always blame everything and everyone else for the problems they cause. It's the personalty type.They're blamers, even when they're sober.

There are no rules regarding hayrides in Ohio, you would think operator would have common sense. But sure all the bureaucrats will push for laws now. I thought the “pavers” have a responsibility to inform of hazards and to reduce secondary hazards at work site? 7” is a lot of drop.   I like how everyone has him guilty for being drunk, anyone get his BAC yet? I thought it was innocent until proven guilty? Even sober does not excuse him from riders safety.   You want to know how easy this can play out? Rear most wagon may sway slightly on its own, all he would have had to do was get close to edge and have it wag a bit; that’s all it takes to drop a wheel over. Many while driving tractors or implements “hug” the far right side of the road. Duhh it does not mean he drove off the pavement; go drive a combination with high center of gravity for yourself; its not your mommies Honda Civic.   To those who imply that they never went off onto the side of the road, at least one time while driving; your full of s---. So each of you get out and walk along and inspect the road surfaces/berm for the paths you drive each day; nonsense. It’s a bale wagon, not a multi-axle heavy haul semi that needs a route and permits.   Terrible it happened, could see it happening sober or drunk; that much more of a tragedy if he was drunk. Speedy recovery to all.        

HMMMM has anyone seen any results to proove that he was actually over the legal limit of alcohol assumption?? 



so lets keep our "facts" and PERIODS to ourselves until the truth is revealed.



Another example of our competent county engineer  Mr. Farschman, with his fancy degrees leaving a project short of being finished.  Probably signed off on this and paid the contractor in full.  Mr. Farschman also left Woodlawn Ave bridge project unfinished.  It has now been 12 1/2 months since it started and and 5 months since Woodlawn reopened and the creek has not been returned to preconstruction condition as PROMISED by Mr. Farschman and other stuff that has not been cleaned up that is still there.  Where the creek bottom was kept clean to the solid rock bottom there is now several inches to as much as 18 inches in areas of mud and stone left from the project covering the bottom.

For those who travel Patten Tract Road don't be suprised if Mr. Farschman tells you he "sees no problem with it" and "he's not going to do anything" about returning it to preconstruction condition. 

Mr. Farschman certainly is not watching out for the people of Erie County and how money is spent by his department.  I was told by Mr. Monahgan that Mr. Farschman DOES NOT answer to the County Commissioners and that he answers only by election.  I guess Mr. Farschman has more power than  President Obama because even he has to answer to congress.

How much will this now cost the people of Erie County in lawsuits because Mr. Farschman failed to follow through and make sure this project was 100% completed in a timely fashion?


Yes trailers sway slightly, but I  highly doubt the tractor was going all that fast.  Also I'd say that his refusal to take a field sobriety test assures most of us he was under the influence.  I am not a lawyer or an officer of the law, but its spelled out for you who claim he is "innocent." 


 "Drunks will always blame everything and everyone else for the problems they cause. It's the personalty type.They're blamers, even when they're sober." WOW Factitious....... you're pretty sick. Currently the slanderizing of this man by some of the people on this board is pathetic and very disappointing. During the trial, the slanderizing of this man (and his wife) will be pathetic and very disappointing. When he is given a slap on the wrist, because: A) He doesn't have a record. B) He's a well-known and well-liked business man in the community, and C) IT WAS AN ACCIDENT attributable to a 7 inch dropoff; the slanderizing of this man and his wife will be pathetic and very disappointing. These are my thoughts about the case and some of the people on this board with their comments. What drives some of you people on this board to spew such disgust? I could understand if this guy was a complete raging drunk with a handful of dui's, public intox, etc.. I should note that I don't know this man or his family. I have heard the last name before, but that's it. It just really disturbs me to see someone cut down like this by anonymous posters.

Captain Gutz

007 post his record!

Oh yeah, he's white, never mind.


 Hahahaa....What record ???? Yeah, Go ahead and post his ONE ticket...Lmao


waywithwords - If the accused was slandered, it wasn't by me. I was commenting generally, and clearly stated I wasn't talking about anyone in particular. Did you fail to notice that before your kneejerk, name-calling personal attack? Or were you offended because you think alcohol abusers are generally well-adjusted people who most often take responsibility for the misery they cause?


TO THOSE WHO QUESTION. Yes I've worked in public safety. And I'm now retired after 30 years.  I've seen the carnage of 'TOO' many first time drunken drivers.  I've removed 'TOO' many innocent victims that never got to go home!  Never grew up!  Never got married!  Never have a full life! 

So, I have NO pitty on someone that refuses a Field Sobreity Test from law enforcement!  That shows that they have something to hide and 'ARE' likely drunk!  Law Enforcement will then obtain a 'WARRANT' and have medical staff drawl blood for the BAC. 

It was in my scope of practice to care for and treat ALL who are my care. Both the victims, and those whom caused the carnage.  ALL, where treated equal and fairly. 

Then there is the action of his wife. The attempt to cover up the incident by tossing away the evidence! OMG!!  As I said before, this looks to be a slam dunk case!  In my opinion!

As the saying goes: If it walks, swims, waddles like a duck...It's a DUCK!

I would have NEVER had partaken in a activity like this!  I know not to drink and drive. I CAN'T AFFORD IT!!!


How long does it take to get the BAC results?


depends if the tests are being done by csi: miami or local law enforcement...hahaha


Hey try pulling a double farm trailer loaded with people out bar hopping while you are drunk at night, who could ever see a problem?  There is a perfect explanation why his wife was tossing beer cans, the answer,  she is anti-recycling?  During this same time frame how many sober persons have driven off this same road and overturned a trailer, answer NONE, its called lack of personal responsibility....



We have one sicko posting how funny this could have been, of course consider the source...


Hey Captain Gutz, ever think he may not have a record?  Or are you too stupid to figure that one out?  

And I remember seeing the record (posted on here by 007) of the LeBrown fan who went to the Indians game wearing a Miami Heat jersey.  He was white.

Not to speak on behalf (or in defense) of 007, but I think the rap sheets which get posted on here are because those people ("Cackles," the idiots shooting at each other, etc) have a lengthy criminal record.  It just so happens that most of them are NOT white.  Maybe that's a sign of which race is committing a higher percentage of the (violent) crimes and not the prejudice of 007.


Does anyone have any facts on this question? I know it is illegal to ride in a boat, or a camper on a trailer when being towed by a truck on the roadway. Wouldn't the same go for a hay wagon, or are they somehow exempt from this? Just curious....

All taken

 I was wondering the same planb. I didn't realize it was legal to bar hop on a tractor pulling  trailors. The news on t.v. said they had already been to two bars in Sandusky. Wonder if I could fit a couple people in my wagon on the back of my lawn mower. Sorry just had to say it. I realize this is not a joking matter but I did not realize this was legal, or is it??

Woody Hayes


Don't forget, that person can hover over ground in the flying wacko machine.


another lawyer trying to manipulate the facts

Phil Packer

I slide off the road during a snow storm once because of a drop off just like that on a "newly" paved road, with no edge lines. It was superbowl sunday(1985 or 1986, the Bears won). Why it had not been finished by then, I don't know, but the dropr off sent my car into a spin and into a telephone poll. I was sober, driving slowly, both hands on the wheel, not listening to the radio, and of course, no cell phone. It was at least a 6 inch dop off, and NO edge lines. I wasn't too happy.