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Theme Park Lets Double Amputee on Roller Coaster Rider Falls to Death

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

It's an unreal scenario: A Darien Lake Theme Park resort won't face criminal charges in the death of an Iraqi war veteran who literally fell to death from a roller coaster ride. It seems highly apparent the double amputee, Iraqi war veteran never should've been allowed to board the New York that plunged him to his death.

29-year-old Sergeant James Hackemer, a double amputee related to war injuries during his military service in Iraq, fell out of his seat while aboard the "Ride of Steel" -- the man then struck by a roller coaster car before his body plunged 150 feet. The military man died of blunt force trauma. The Genesee County Sheriff's Department now says Darien Lake Theme Park will face no criminal charges -- but the question remains: Why was Sergeant Hackemer ever allowed to board the roller coaster in the first place, with no legs and no obvious way to balance his upper body weight.

Genesee's Sheriff Gary Maha noted that the New York amusement park'sspecific ride rules for the "Ride of Steel" roller coaster include guidelines which clearly indicate what should have been the war veteran's automatic disqualification from ever boarding the huge rollercoaster: "For the restraint devices on this ride to fully and safely engage, guests must have two legs and be within a certain range of size and physical dimension. In addition, guests must have sufficient body strength and the complete use of at least one arm and hand to hold on to the grab bar. No guests may ride holding anything with artifical limbs attached."

In a situation that doesn't appear to require a lot of investigation, Sheriff Maha nonetheless that -- as a result of their "investigation" -- the law enforcement agency found that Sergeant Hackemer lacked "the physical attributes necessary to be properly restrained" on the roller coaster.

Yeah, that pretty much seems a no-brainer.

The New York State Department of Labor is continuing an investigation. So far, the New York state agency's found no mechanical problems with the "Ride of Steel" roller coaster itself. Of course that's not exactly a surprise. A lack of mechanical problems for the coaster is probably doesn't negate the obvious: With no lower body weight to balance his upper body, the double amputee probably had no way of blocking himself from falling out of his seat with the force exerted on his body during the roller coaster ride.

While no one's being prosecuted for a criminal act for the double amputee that was killed at the New York amusement park, the theme park may still be held liable in civil court should the family of Sergeant James Hackemer choose to seek monetary damages -- filing of a lawsuit that is, no doubt, the next step for the Iraqi war veteran's beloved.

The July 13, 2011, Darien Lake Theme Park statement claims the 'resort' "continues to mourn the loss of Sergeant James T. Hackemer and pray for him, his family and all those impacted by this [roller coaster] accident."

"We take our responsibility very seriously," claims the New York Darien Lake General Manager Christopher Thorpe. "We are not going to rush this process. As soon as we have final information on any measures to be taken within the park, we will share those with the public." Those 'measures' aren't exactly a secret. Theme park employees following ride guidelines for an allowed passenger might be step one in safety.

"I wish to express my personal appreciation to the Genesee County Sheriff's Department for their quick response and thorough work," says General Manager Thorpe.

A word to the wise, Mr Thorpe: Just because criminal charges haven't currently been filed doesn't mean the theme park is off the hook. You'll probably be facing those officers again shortly, in court -- with those same cops you're thanking as witnesses, to testify against the theme park in a probable wrongful death lawsuit.


Darien Lake Theme Park Resort
9993 Allegheny Road
Darien Center, NY 14040
United States
Phone: (585) 599-4641
42° 54' 47.5344" N, 78° 23' 21.966" W
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