posted on July 08, 2011 19:10
UPDATE: 11:25PM by Geoff Redick
The victim in a horrific Friday afternoon accident at Darien Lake Theme Park was reportedly an Iraq veteran who had lost both of his legs in the war.
According to Genesee County Sheriff's Sergeant Greg Walker, 29-year-old James Hekemer of Gowanda had sustained amputations to each of his legs - one below the knee, and the other at his hip. At the time of the accident, he was not wearing prosthetic legs
Hekemer was a passenger on "The Ride of Steel," formerly "Superman: Ride of Steel," at Darien Lake Theme Park this afternoon. He was sitting in the very front seat of the first car on the ride. At about 5:30pm, Hekemer was ejected from the rollercoaster on the second large hill. The rollercoaster was traveling approximately 50mph at the time of the incident. Hekemer fell an unknown distance and sustained fatal injuries upon impact.
"The Ride of Steel" is outfitted with two types of restraint in each seat: a lap bar, and a lap-only seatbelt. There is no shoulder harness and no other type of bodily restraint built into the ride.
Deputies Friday evening said that Hekemer was attending the park with his children and several sisters. He was sitting with one of those family members in the front of the ride when he was ejected. The other family member was not injured, nor were any of the other riders on "The Ride of Steel." The ride was immediately shut down and will remain so for an undisclosed amount of time.
Sheriff's Department investigations wrapped up late this evening, and are expected to continue tomorrow.
Park officials did not comment this evening, and referred nearly all questions to the Sheriff's Office representatives. They say more information will be available from the Park within the next few days. Darien Lake Theme Park remains open on its regular schedule.