Army Veteran Dies in Theme Park Accident
Friday morning, an army veteran who lost both legs while serving in Iraq died in a tragic roller coaster accident at an amusement park in Darien Lake, New York. The ride is currently closed to the public while inspectors examine the ride.
Sgt. James Hackemer was ejected from the Ride of Steel roller coaster while enjoying a family outing at the amusement park. Hackemer lost his legs due to a roadside bomb several years ago. He had recently been cleared to live at his parents’ home after undergoing years of rehabilitation. Hackemer was 29 years old.
Investigators are currently looking into who was responsible for the theme park accident. It is likely that both sides might share some of the blame. It is uncertain whether theme park attendants should have prevented Hackemer from riding the roller coaster due to his disability. According to Hackemer’s nephew, they did not question his intent to board the ride. While it is understandable why Hackemer wouldn’t want his disability to prevent him from enjoying the park to its fullest, his decision to ride the roller coaster may not have been the most prudent.
If it is determined that the amusement park staff should have prevented Hackemer from riding the roller coaster, then the park may face a wrongful death claim from Hackemer’s family.
This is not the first theme park accident occurring on the Ride of Steel. In 1999, a man was hospitalized after being ejected from the ride. He suffered broken ribs during the incident. Excessive weight was believed to be a factor in the first accident. The amusement park overhauled the seat belt system following that incident. It is likely that they will make certain adjustments to the ride after this incident as well. One of these adjustments may involve guidelines for amputee riders.