CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Ride of Steel at Darien Lake remains closed Saturday while the investigation into the death of Sgt. James Hackemer continues. Witnesses who saw the terrifying moments unfold are coming forward.
14-year-old Cora Mulanix said, "I just saw his arms go up and he just flew and came towards me, kind of."
Mulanix was one of the many who was on the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake Friday and watched Sgt. James Hackemer fall to his death at the amusement park.
"Everyone was so shocked and telling the operators, 'Don't go on the ride, don't go on the ride.' But they let another car go up right after us, which I don't get why they didn't get them off and get us off and they didn't even ask us if we were okay or anything," said Mulanix.
Her 14-year-old friend, Elise Cirillo, was also on the ride. She didn't see the fall, but says all of the passengers were barely strapped in.
Cirillo said, "It's like a leather little strap thing that goes over your waist and then something pulls down, but it's not even secure, it shakes. You feel fine, but you're loose and it's kind of at the part where you kind of jump out of your seat a little bit. But no one expected that to happen."
Denise Teufel was waiting for her daughters and their friends when she heard that someone had fallen off the ride.
"It was only about 45 seconds, maybe a minute, and I started running up to the ride to see what had happened and then luckily off to the side I heard my daughter say, 'Mom,' and I looked and I went '1,2,3,4' because there was my two daughters and my two friends and I thought, 'Thank God.' But then they told me and the girls were just hysterical," recalled Teufel.
Teufel added, "This war hero went through all of this and survived what he did overseas and just trying to have a good day and live life and have a good time, it just doesn't make sense."
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