posted on July 09, 2011 00:00
The victim in a horrific Friday afternoon accident at Darien Lake Theme Park was reportedly an Iraq veteran who had lost both of his legs in the war.
According to Genesee County Sheriff's Sergeant Greg Walker, 29-year-old James Hackemer (above) of Gowanda was a passenger on "The Ride of Steel," formerly "Superman: Ride of Steel," at Darien Lake Theme Park Friday afternoon. He was sitting in the very front seat of the first car on the ride. At about 5:30pm, Hackemer was ejected from the rollercoaster on a hill. The rollercoaster was traveling approximately 50mph at the time of the incident. Hackemer fell an unknown distance and sustained fatal injuries upon impact.
Hackemer had undergone amputations to each of his legs following his service in Iraq: one just above the knee, and the other at his hip. At the time of Friday's accident, he was not wearing prosthetic legs.
"The Ride of Steel" is outfitted with two types of restraints in each seat: a lap bar, and a lap-only seatbelt. There is no shoulder harness and no other type of bodily restraint built into the ride. Sergeant Walker would not comment on whether the types of restraints, combined with Hackemer's amputations, had led to the ride accident.
Deputies Friday evening said that Hackemer was attending the park with his children and several sisters. He was sitting with one of those family members in the front of the ride when he was ejected. The other family member was not injured, nor were any of the other riders on "The Ride of Steel." The ride was immediately shut down and will remain so for an undisclosed amount of time.
Park officials did not comment this evening, and referred nearly all questions to the Sheriff's Office representatives. They say more information will be available from the Park within the next few days. Darien Lake Theme Park remains open on its regular schedule.
BELOW: Raw video from the news conference at Darien Lake Friday evening
PHOTO: Retrieved from a memorial Facebook page set-up to honor Hackemer