Skip to comments.Army amputee ejected from roller coaster, dies
Posted on 07/09/2011 10:38:50 PM PDT by Immerito
A U.S. Army veteran who lost his legs while deployed in Iraq died after he was thrown from a 200-foot-tall roller coaster at an upstate theme park on Friday.
James Thomas Hackemer, 29, was ejected from the Ride of Steel roller coaster at the Darien Lake Theme Park Resort, located between Buffalo and Rochester, at about 5:30 p.m., the Genesee County sheriff's office said.
The park confirmed a guest "came out of the Ride of Steel roller coaster" and said it was "saddened to report that the guest has passed."
Hackemer, of Gowanda, lost his right leg below his knee and his left leg at his hip because of a roadside bomb while he was deployed in 2008, authorities said. He had been living with his parents.
"It's going to help a little bit that he was happy," his mother, Nancy Hackemer, told The Buffalo News. "We shouldn't have had him for these last three years and four months."
She said the family had recently returned from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., where her son got "a new set of legs."
"He was assisted onto the ride," she said. "He was doing what he wanted to do."
(Excerpt) Read more at msnbc.msn.com ...
Wow, talk about being jinxed.
Unable to hang on very well? A lot of these rides the bar comes across the legs. Being amputated at the hip on one leg and below the knee on the other, was there too little for the bar to clamp down onto?
Almost like a "Final Destination" movie.
It’s possible (nothing here constitutes engineering advice) that the ride was designed for people with normal centers of gravity (i.e. you can’t fall out even without the restraints). An amputee’s center of gravity would be higher than normal. Perhaps he should not have been allowed on the ride for this reason, or special safety restraints (similar to those used by construction workers) installed to allow amputees to ride safely.
Pretty steep. I would think with very little for the bar to come down over, that toppling forward would be hard to prevent.
“Almost like a “Final Destination” movie. “
Yes, I thought that too. I’m not into “horror” movies, I guess those aren’t really horror, but I thought that was a clever idea. I’d like to watch the first one I think.
But I can’t watch it anytime soon because hubby’s going away for 2 weeks, so I’ll be sleeping with the lights on anyway!
Sorry, I should also have said rest in peace for this unfortunate man.
Doesn't look like it in this picture of the roller coaster in question.
The way the deaths occur definitely fit in the horror movie category.
The first one is the best.
I can’t believe they let him on this ride.
not much for 1 leg nub to hold onto there. not surprising from the look of it. can’t believe he got on there
I agree. There's going to be some serious money changing hands.
Crazy to survive Afghanistan, only to die on a roller coaster.
I think you hit the nail. The clamping bar is usually below your navel. A double amputee has much smaller mass below navel than a normal person. This soldier should never have risked that kind of ride.
one of the comments under the article:
I am an amputee. In rehabilitation at Reid AMC and Beaumont Army Hospital we were given stucture of a lot of, if you will, “do’s and don’ts.” Fast moving rollercoasters was on the list.
LTC Rattus, USA, ret.
All the force holding you into the ride is across the upper thighs. I can't believe he got on it with prosthetic legs. That's a damn tragedy and some insanely poor judgment on the part of those who let him on it.
RIP, soldier. You deserved better than this, happy or not.
I will think of him now, every time I ride it... Every ride will be dedicated to his memory and service.
If that’s the right picture, those restraints are made to work with legs. If you don’t have legs, they won’t really hold you into the ride. They expect people to have knees that only bend one way.
The ride operators should have known that. The park should have had that in the training, and since he must have been wheeled up to the ride, they would have known they were dealing with a special case.
Supposedly a family member added a comment under the article:
You want answers to questions? I honestly don't know why I am even reading the comments because half of you are so insulting it's pathetic. To the people praying for my family, thank you- we appreciate all the positive thoughts and prayers.
Fred Appl- His right leg ended just above his knee and he didn't have a left leg at all. It's not possible that he met basic height requirements though I don't know what conversation he had with the operators about this because the family member that was riding with him is still in shock and not talking.
To the others---
This was a terrible accident. As his sister, I know what he was thinking getting on the ride- he wanted to live a normal life and not be treated like a freak just because he had no legs. Should he have been allowed on? Not my call. Doesn't change the fact that he was allowed on and thus died. Please have a little respect and imagine if it was one of your family members- if you can't do that then I truly feel sorry for you.
I hate to be cynical about this but was this some sort of death wish where they hoped to collect a ton of money. A family member was on the ride with him. Someone helped him to get onto the ride. Probably the family member. Did the ride operator even realize this guy had amputated legs?
I agree on all points.
My first guess is that no one wanted to insult/offend an amputee that wanted to ride.
Everyone, at least most of us, want to accommodate and encourage those with handicaps.
He was an adult; he wanted to ride; and not being much on physics knowledge I would not have guessed that mostly missing legs would have made him fly out of a shoulder harness.
There was NO shoulder harness. Plus amputees were given a list of do’s and don’ts before leaving the hospital and high speed roller coasters were on the don’t list.
However,he showed very poor judgment getting on such a ride;and the family member assisting him showed equally poor judgment.
Personally,I believe riders should be strapped in like a 4-point racing harness.
But then again, personally,I don't do roller coasters.
I am grateful to his service and that he was able to return home to his family where they could put their arms around him (not killed over seas). I am so sorry for their loss - no doubt you begin to heave a sigh of relief that your soldier came home and have no reason to really dread an amusement park. Prayers up for their painful, sudden loss.
A man at my church was hospitalized with something like pneumonia and when he awoke a few days later - he was a double amputee. What a shock. But even from the hospital bed he had a sense of humor about it when the pastor visited -shocking the pastor by saying something about being ‘half the man I used to be’. Well this gentlemen learned to walk with prosthetic legs and returned to the middle east to take donated wheel chairs and prosthetics to adults and children with limb loss. He is quite the example for them.
He tells the story of going on one of those roller coasters that go upside down in a corkscrew motion. When the coaster reached top speed, the little girl seated facing him was staring at him open mouthed - his prosthetic legs had begun to twirl at impossible angles back toward and over his shoulders - when the coaster then flipped through a series of corkscrews, first one prosthetic limb and then the other shot from him pant legs to the horror of the little girl. The sight was so absurd that he began to laugh uncontrollably and as the coaster swept him backward toward the finish line, his empty pant legs rippled at her like wind socks (he says she clutched her own legs at the knees, fearing they too would just blow off, she didn’t know his were prosthetics). When the harness came up she shot from her seat screaming. It was not his intention to scare her or neglect her fear, he was just so shocked himself. Hearing his story - well I guess I had hoped it was safe for amputees to ride.
The business owner is between a rock and a hard place in a situation like this. Keep him off, and the headline is the amusement park discriminates against handicapped veterans, and they end up being sued for ADA violations.
I hope that the poor fellah seated behind him (or standing below on the fairway), who got two prosthetic legs slamming into his face at 90+ mph, found it as funny!
I appreciate the man’s service, but when the doc tells you to avoid Russian roulette most people have the sense to not play the game.
He probably would have sued them for violating his rights if they didn’t let him on the ride.
Couldn’t a logical person have figured out a lap restraint can’t hold someone wo doesn’t have a lap?
The park owners are screwed either way.
But he paid the ultimate price. It must have been terrifying.
The clamping bar is usually below your navel. A double amputee has much smaller mass below navel than a normal person. This soldier should never have risked that kind of ride.
I would think that it would be better to be sued by ADA and argue that the restraints were not going to hold him, than to be sued for negligent homicide.
At any rate I think the park could argue that common sense was needed by all parties, the deceased, the family member that was with the deceased on the ride and probably helped him onto the ride and the park/ride operator.
If the park were smart they would have their lawyer get a hold of this mans family and let them know if they try to sue, that they will counter sue. This man and his family member used poor judgement that affected other visitors at the park and especially on that ride.
If the operator went by the height rule he wouldn’t have been tall enough.
Because they were inverted as the legs departed, the prosthetics were flung off into the landscaping and the staff had to search the grounds for them.
I prefer to have individuals take responsibility for their own actions. As much as I admire the soldier’s service, as a grown man, he should know better than to ride in a high acceleration roller coaster.
This country has gone too far blaming “others” such as corporations, and close to minimum wage ride operator instead of placing the blame where it belongs..individual responsibility for individual actions. US has 10 times the lawyers per capita than Japan, and we are paying the price.
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