An army veteran who survived the Iraq war after having his legs amputated, died in a rollercoaster accident. Several teams of inspectors came to the place of the accident at the Darien Lake Theme Park Resort to examine the Ride of Steel coaster.
At only 29 years old, Sgt. James Thomas Hackemer has died in a tragic accident that had nothing to do with his army life. The war in Iraq had left him without the possibility of walking, but a deadly rollercoaster had taken his life. During his visit at the Darien Lake Theme Park Resort, which is located 30 miles east from Buffalo, Hackermer decided to go on a rollercoaster ride, which has proven to be his last one. He was out with his family on Friday evening when he climbed on board of the Ride of Steel. At one point during the ride, he was thrown away from his seat in the 208-foot tall coaster.
Hackermer was missing a part of his right leg and all his left leg, along with a part of a hip, due to a bomb attack in Iraq. He spent years in rehabilitation in numerous hospitals around the United States and had only recently came back home to his parents.
Now the inspectors are investigating the case. They did not say when exactly in the ride the accident had happened. In addition, it is not yet known if the attendants had thought about not approving his ride because of his handicap. The sergeant was accompanied by several family members at the amusement park. One of his sisters said that “he was determined to ride every roller coaster,” adding that she thinks he has died happy: “That minute he was on that ride, he probably felt the happiest and most normal he’s felt in three and a half years.”
Hackermer’s was riding that day with his nephew. The young man was too shaken by the event to be able to talk to the reporters. However, he managed to talk to one of his aunts, telling her that the attendees never questioned the veteran’s ability to ride the coaster. “Not one objection,” he told her.
The park officials refused to give any statement regarding the accident.