Double-amputee vet killed in rollercoaster fall, Part 1

There are about 400 amusement parks in the United States that are visited by 280 million people each year. People visit the parts for fun and excitement, and one of the main attractions at the parks are rollercoasters, which take riders on steep drops, sharp curves, and inversions.

On Friday a veteran who lost his legs in service died after he fell from a rollercoaster. Now a congressman from Massachusetts, who has long advocated for tighter supervision, has said that the accident re-fueled efforts to get fixed-site theme parks under federal regulatory oversight.

The fatal accident occurred at the Darien Lake Theme Park and Resort, just east of Buffalo, New York, on the Ride of Steel rollercoaster. Reportedly, the 29-year-old double amputee, who was a coined a local hero after losing his legs in Iraq in a roadside bomb, was ejected from the ride and suffered fatal injuries as a result of the fall.

The Ride of Steel rollercoaster travels at speeds up to 70 mph and at 208 feet is one of the tallest rollercoasters in the eastern part of the country, the Darien Lake Theme Park’s website said. A spokesperson for the park said an investigation into the accident is ongoing.

Sadly, the veteran had endured two strokes, blood loss and brain damage following the roadside bomb attack in 2008 and spent three years in rehabilitation being re-taught how to eat and speak. The veteran was released from rehabilitation in March and lived life with gusto.

“I want to live my life to the fullest from here on out,” the veteran told local news reporters after being released from rehab.

Check back later this week for more on what the congressman from Massachusetts thinks should be done to make amusement parks safer and what claims, if any, the family of the veteran could have against the theme park.

Source: Reuters, “Double amputee’s theme park death reignites regulatory fight,” Eric Johnson, 7/10/2011.