Darien Lake settles wrongful death lawsuit

By | January 8, 2013

Darien Lake, N.Y. — Darien Lake Amusement Park has settled a lawsuit brought about by the family of Sergeant James Hackemer who fell out of the park’s Ride of Steel roller coaster on July 8, 2011. Hackemer, an Iraqi war veteran, lost both of his legs in a roadside bombing in 2008. He was not wearing his prosthetics when he boarded the coaster and was thrown from the ride as it crested the second hill, falling about 150 feet. The coaster’s manufacturer and park rules require riders to have both legs in order to ride. The rules are posted at the entrance to the ride.

An investigation into the accident revealed that the ride operators failed to follow park policies when they allowed Sgt. Hackemer to board the coaster.

“Darien Lake and its management are relieved to settle this case,” said Hugh M. Russ III, a lawyer for the amusement park. “And while they admit no liability, they did feel obligated to help care for Mr. Hackemer’s two children.”

The exact details of the settlement are confidential, but it was revealed that Hackemer’s two young daughters, ages 4 and 6, are the beneficiaries of a settlement exceeding seven figures.