DARIEN, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Genesee County Sheriff finds no criminal wrongdoing in the death of Sgt. James Hackemer on Darien Lake's tallest roller coaster. However, he says the park should never have let the amputee war vet on the ride. Admirers and loved ones are paying hometown respects.
One by one, mourners filled the Gowanda church. They came to pay their final respects to Army Sgt. James Hackemer, who was a man of faith.
Janet Pecnik said, "A very strong person, a courageous person. Loving God, a lot of faith, the whole family has a lot of faith."
Pastor Randy Pratt said, "They're grieving the loss, but at the same time they know they're going to see him again and they're encouraged by that."
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders stood proudly outside the church, to show their support for the family. James Hackemer's family was always there to support him. He came home to a hero's welcome a few years ago, after losing both his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Mark Steffan said, "The strangest of strange, isn't it? But that's where he wanted to be and that's what he wanted to do and in talking with his sisters, he will do what he wants to do, so God love him."
The brave soldier was killed Friday night after falling from a roller coaster at Darien Lake. While the Gowanda community mourns Hackemer's loss, the Genesee County Sheriff's office has concluded its investigation.
Sheriff Gary Maha said, "This was an unfortunate accident."
But Sheriff Maha says that because Sgt. Hackemer was a double amputee, he shouldn't have boarded that ride.
"The Genesee County Sheriff's office has made a determination that Mr. Hackemer did not have the physical attributes to be properly restrained on the Ride of Steel roller coaster," said Sheriff Maha.
But investigators have determined that there is no criminal liability on the part of the park or the attendants who allowed Hackemer to get on the roller coaster.
Genesee County DA Lawrence Friedman said, "And they let him ride it when maybe they shouldn't have."
A celebration of Sergeant Hackemer's life will take place Thursday morning at 11 a.m. at the Gowanda Assembly of God Church. Sgt. Hackemer is survived by two daughters, his parents and many relatives. He'll be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
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