Park Won't Face Charges in Amputee's Coaster Death

Darien Lake violated its own policy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 13, 2011 12:41 PM CDT
This March 2011 photo provided by Help Our Military Heroes (HOMH), shows Iraq war veteran Sgt. James Hackemer on the day he was awarded a van in Beltsville, Md.   (Marybeth Vandergrift)

(Newser) – A double-amputee Iraq War veteran who was hurled off a towering roller coaster to his death never should have been allowed on the ride, but the New York park's operators will face no criminal charges despite violating their own policy, authorities said today. Signs at the Ride of Steel roller coaster at Darien Lake clearly state riders "must have two legs," the county sheriff said. "He didn't have the physical attributes to hold him in."

Investigators, however, found no criminal intent. Sgt. James Hackemer, 29, died Friday when he was thrown from the last and second-highest of three hills on the coaster. He fell about 150 feet. Hackemer was missing all of his left leg and most of his right leg, and was not wearing prosthetic limbs when he was thrown from the ride. Civil liability could be determined later if a lawsuit is filed. (Read more Iraq war stories.)

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