BUFFALO, NY - A settlement has been reached in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed against a western New York amusement park by the family of a double amputee Iraq veteran killed when he fell out of a roller coaster.
In life, James Hackemer wanted nothing more than to provide for his two little girls, Kaelynn and Addison.
Now, even in death he will be able to do just that.
Sergeant Hackemer, from Gowanda, had lost both of his legs and suffered a a head injury from road side bomb in Iraq in 2008.
That fall, once his health had stabilized, Hackemer returned home received a hero's welcome at the airport. His father pinned his purple heart on his chest. "I've been in the hospital for so long, I haven't been able to move, let alone think about coming home, just to get this chance to come home is a miracle," said Sgt. Hackemer at the time.
In July 2011, Hackemer was at Darien Lake with his family. Despite the loss of his legs, and in violation of the park's own rules, Hackemer was permitted to ride on the Man of Steel roller coaster.
Near the end of the ride, Hackemer fell out of the car he was in and was killed. Last week, lawyers for Darien Lake and Hackemer's two daughters reached a confidential out of court settlement that a source tells us is at least one million dollars.
"It's going to ensure their financial stability through the rest of their lives. They've lost their father, so that was what we were looking out for here," said the girls' attorney Denis Bastible of Cellino and Barnes.
A lawyer for Darien Lake declined an on camera interview but told us: "We're relieved to have this matter resolved. There was no acknowledgement of wrong doing, but we're pleased that the family can move on with their lives."
State officials determined operator error was to blame for the accident.
Following the accident, 2 On Your Side sent a FOIA request to New York State requesting copies of the state's inspection reports for the ride.
The state responded and forwarded inspection records for the past three years to 2 On Your Side. The state also included a copy of the accident report following their investigating of the Hackemer accident.
The lawsuit was first reported by the Buffalo News.