BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The governor's office now confirms to 2 On Your Side that the Department of Labor is in the final stages of creating an online database that will allow New Yorkers to search inspection violations for amusement rides.
Following the tragic death of Army Sgt. James Hackemer, 29, who was a double amputee and fell from the Ride of Steel coaster at Darien Lake, 2 On Your Side requested the ride's inspection reports. Turns out, a Freedom of Information Law request was required to get the inspections.
Unlike other states, citizens did not have a quick and easy way to access those public documents, which many consider to involve public safety.
Open government groups called for a change in policy, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signaled an immediate interest in opening the records.
2 On Your Side has learned the governor ordered the Department of Labor to create the new Web site, which should be operational in the next few days.
It will include violation information from inspections of rides at amusement and theme parks, as well as traveling rides that are used at carnivals and county fairs.
While the state has not yet released the inspection reports on the Ride of Steel coaster, the Genesee County Sheriff told 2 On Your Side the ride passed inspections. Investigations revealed there were no mechanical problems with the ride and that operator error was partially responsible for Sgt. Hackemer's death.
The State Department of Labor issued two violations following its investigation of the accident.
Hackemer's estate is now suing Darien Lake for wrongful death.
The new Web site will not apply within New York City, which by law does its own inspections of amusement rides.