Albany, NY (July 22, 2011) -
The New York State Department of Labor today issued two violations to Darien Lake Theme Park following a thorough investigation into the July 8 fatality of Army Sergeant James Hackemer while on the "Ride of Steel."
The incident has also led to independent investigations by local law enforcement.
The Department of Labor's investigation found that Sergeant Hackemer's death was the result of operator error. The Ride of Steel is mechanically sound and all safety devices work properly. The Park's safety and operational requirements, which were visibly posted at the entrance to the Ride of Steel, were not followed by the ride operators. These rules require that riders have both legs, because the safety devices restrain the legs, shins, and lap to hold the rider safely in the ride's car. Sergeant Hackemer lost both his legs in combat while serving in Iraq.
The Department of Labor is authorized to inspect amusement parks and issue violations where appropriate. Based on their investigation, the Department of Labor issued two violations to the Park:
On the day of the accident, the Department of Labor ordered the Park to stop operating the Ride of Steel until a full inspection of the ride was completed. Since then, the ride has remained closed.
Following orders from the Department of Labor:
Since the Park complied with these orders, the Department of Labor approved the ride to reopen today.
The Department of Labor reminds riders to follow basic safety guidelines on rides at amusement parks and traveling carnivals. These include:
More information about ride safety is available on the web site www.ridesafeny.com. The web site offers riders, parents, and children helpful tips on ride safety, along with a directory of amusement parks in New York State. The web site also makes it simple to e-mail the Department of Labor to report unsafe conditions.