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Six Flags Darien Lake (SFDL) Discussion Thread

P. 408: Predator retracking under way!

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The only way I would buy this suicide by coaster angle is if he had some sort of terminal illness that has been kept secret. So, this way he could go out on his own terms. It is still a little absurd to think that someone would purposely put so many people through the trauma of seeing a man with no legs fly out of a coaster to his death.

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IMO, the sign placed at the ride's entrance should be the rules to abide by, no matter what inconsistencies the website may have. You should at least have the common sense to read the rules if you even think that you may be in danger if you ride the ride.

 

That's what bothers me about the general public of the US. No one bothers to read or listen to safety warnings, and then it's automatically the park's fault if something happens.

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It is still a little absurd to think that someone would purposely put so many people through the trauma of seeing a man with no legs fly out of a coaster to his death.

 

What about "suicide by cop"? That happens and is far more of an imposition to the cop than would be put on spectators in a "suicide by coaster" scenario. Suicide is by definition a selfish act.

 

I have no idea what happened in this particular case. Suicide seems plausible, especially considering the family's "hey, what can you do" attitude about the incident.

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Another thing to think about with the family's "calmness"...they had obviously already been through the full gamut of emotions with his injuries in the war and subsequent rehab. I'm not saying that it's ever easy to say goodbye when someone dies, but they have been through hell and back emotionally already I am sure. That may play a factor in how "calm and collected" they appear in the interview. Just a thought from someone who watched a grandparent basically die twice due to Alzheimer's....once with the loss of all memory and then finally succumbing to the disease.

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Suicide might not be the most accurate way to describe it, but given the fact the guy had cheated death once before, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think that his mindset could have been "I know I'm not supposed to ride this, but damnit, I'm lucky to be alive and want to ride this roller coaster!...lets see if I can talk the ride ops into it."

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For starters, naturally, the realistic side of me just says there's 1001 other ways to kill yourself. And usually if someone is depressed enough to the point of ending their own life, they're generally not thinking of "going out with a big thrill." Secondly, generally speaking, most people who commit suicide don't intentionally gather their family for the event. Finally, I noticed something I could directly relate to concerning the surviving family members who were interviewed. The suggested "calmness" and "accepting nature" with which they spoke of their fallen relative seemed to be directly related to their personal faith (as was referenced in the video clip of the deceased man).

I've been trying to think of a good way to explain my thoughts on the suicide theory, but you nailed it on the head for me. I mean, I guess anything's possible, but I would be utterly SHOCKED if it was "suicide by coaster" (which just sounds silly when you say it).

 

 

^What Joey said makes sense, as well. I just can't buy the full-on "I'm going to purposely get on this ride to die" scenario.

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While Kristin was at her baby shower today, I showed this video to the male side of my extended family and provided them with no background of the incident . The general consensus from a group that included a criminal lawyer, a psychiatrist, and a sociology professor was that he was going for suicide via roller coaster and the family was at least partially aware of it ahead of time.

 

 

 

Chris "Not to be a debbie downer" Connolly

 

Everyone in my family (including a personal injury lawyer and a few teachers) is saying the same thing - they're not even mentioning how the ride might have been unsafe (it's not, but most people from the GP would blame this on the ride).

 

EDIT: Crap, I didn't read the last page of comments regarding suicide as a possibility. With my post, I was not implying suicide, but simply mentioning that fact that people who randomly heard/read about the story (before hearing about it from me) felt that it might have been the case for someone who has already been through so much.

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I think the suicide theory sounds highly unlikely. Of course there is always the possibility that I might be wrong, but to me it just seems strange that a person who is planning to commit suicide goes to a park where he might be allowed on a ride, and if he is allowed he might not be properly secured and he might be thrown from the ride and he might be killed.

 

It just seems that there are so many "easier" ways to kill yourself...

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he might be thrown from the ride and he might be killed.

And I think this is another important point. For someone who had already been through an immense amount of pain and physical therapy, it seems highly unlikely that he'd risk subjecting himself to even more of it should he survive the act....since the whole "suicide by coaster" plan doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll actually die.

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^Or stepping...er...rolling off a bridge into a river. That one doesn't cost a thing.

 

And in most states there a laws that make you wait for quite some time before you can actually have the gun. So buying a gun isn't entirely practical, but he'd probably have a gun already...a lot of people do.

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I'm not buying the suicide angle. I would, however; like to have a word with the Intamin cable.

 

 

 

Scott, I've always been a fan of your opinions and your level headedness, but did you see the video?

First off, thanks for the compliment, Chris.

 

I did in fact watch the video in question. I've also read many of the articles written too, just so I could form a solid opinion on the matter. Honestly speaking, I'm sticking by my thoughts on this one. Personally I just don't see this as a possible suicide, and there's several reasons why I feel that way.

 

For starters, naturally, the realistic side of me just says there's 1001 other ways to kill yourself. And usually if someone is depressed enough to the point of ending their own life, they're generally not thinking of "going out with a big thrill." Secondly, generally speaking, most people who commit suicide don't intentionally gather their family for the event. Finally, I noticed something I could directly relate to concerning the surviving family members who were interviewed. The suggested "calmness" and "accepting nature" with which they spoke of their fallen relative seemed to be directly related to their personal faith (as was referenced in the video clip of the deceased man).

 

I understand not everyone will understand or even chose to give credit to that assumption or theory, and I always hesitate to bring religion to the conversation out of respect to everyone's own beliefs, but it was something that really stood out to me and helped solidify my opinion on the story.

 

I'll also be the first to admit if I'm wrong on this, but I've got a really strong hunch that this was in no way a suicide.

 

I knew I liked you for a reason...I think you got it in one with your description of their calmness due to faith. Although I am not a particularly "faithful" person, I've seen people go through literal hell on earth with calmness and dignity because of their faith, and you will never hear me condemn them for it.

 

I also, personally, LOVED the intamin cable comment.

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And usually if someone is depressed enough to the point of ending their own life, they're generally not thinking of "going out with a big thrill."

 

Being suicidal myself before, I can tell you there are 1000's of ways that go through ones mind about how to kill yourself; "Going out with a big thrill" is one of them.

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My local paper decided to go for its own spin on this topic. The results produced an idiot ranting to the paper. (If you read to the end, you'll see why)

 

Seven years ago, a man who sells prosthetic limbs for a living was barred from getting on the Montu roller coaster at Busch Gardens because he wore a prosthetic right leg.

 

Cary Frounfelter of Seminole sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He settled out of court for an amount that barely covered his lawyer fees. But amputees wearing prosthetic limbs above the knee are still not allowed to ride the 60-mph roller coaster on which riders' legs dangle freely.

 

"If you go there now, there are signs up at the front of the lines," Frounfelter said Monday. "Those signs are there because of me."

 

Lawsuits like Frounfelter's have forced amusement parks to balance access to rides by the disabled with safety.

 

Last Friday night, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs to a roadside bomb was ejected from a 208-foot-tall roller coaster at a theme park outside Buffalo, N.Y. Sgt. James Thomas Hackemer died. His sister has said she does not believe he was wearing his prosthetic limbs.

 

The accident has brought scrutiny and perhaps more regulation of the industry. There is no federal oversight of amusement park rides. Now, a Massachusetts congressman said he is planning to introduce legislation that would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to inspect the country's 400 "fixed site" amusement parks. Right now, only traveling rides are inspected. This means many parks come up with and apply their own rules.

 

James Barber of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials said most major parks have rules regarding disabled riders. For example, ride attendants at many parks are not required to pick up someone out of a wheel chair and carry him onto a ride.

 

"I know they can deny access if it's determined the person cannot be properly restrained on a ride," Barber said. "That's allowable under ADA rules. Each park takes their stand on it and it depends on whether their attendants believe a person is able to ride the ride."

 

At the theme park where Hackemer, 29, died, two other roller coasters required riders to have "upper body control, two legs and complete use of at least one hand," according to the park's website.

 

The Ride of Steel, from which he fell, secures riders with only a lap bar and a seat belt. It has a height requirement of 54 inches. After losing all of his left leg and most of his right in 2008, Hackemer was only 36 inches tall.

 

In May 1999, a 400-pound man was thrown from the same ride when it was owned by another company. He suffered only minor injuries, but he won a $4-million lawsuit against the park. The jury found the park was negligent in its failure to properly train employees on how to assess a rider's risk.

 

"Nobody wants a lawsuit but unfortunately that's the country we live in," said Dennis Speigel, an amusement park consultant in Cincinnati. "If you tell them they can't get on the rides, they sue. If there's an accident, they sue. It's a difficult situation."

 

In Florida, amusement parks are inspected by the state's Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection at least twice a year. The major theme parks, however, such as Busch Gardens and Walt Disney World, get a visit but they are exempt from the inspections by state law, said Allan Harrison, bureau chief.

 

"We don't regulate them," Harrison said. "Each ride is looked at by a qualified engineer" — hired by the park, he said — "so there is some oversight, but there are not inspections."

 

At Busch Gardens in Tampa, people with physical limitations are urged to visit guest services to find out what they can and can't do at the park. Access to the rides is governed by such questions as whether riders can hold on with two functioning hands, whether they can brace themselves with one or two functioning legs, whether they have control of their upper torso, whether an amputation is above or below the knee.

 

A park employee will plug the parameters into a computer and it will spit out a list of allowable rides, said Jill Revelle, a spokeswoman for Busch Gardens.

 

When Frounfelter went to the park in July 2004, he was with his 10-year-old daughter and he said there were no signs to tell him that he could not wear his metal prosthetic leg on the ride. He waited in line for an hour and the attendant only pulled him aside after his daughter got on the ride. Then she had to ride it on her own without him.

 

Though he didn't really win his discrimination lawsuit with Busch Gardens, and people wearing their prosthetic limbs (above-the-knee only) are still not allowed on the major roller coasters, Frounfelter, 44, said he doesn't let that stop him.

 

He has a prosthetic limb that looks real. He said he's slipped onto dozens of roller coasters, including Montu. The ride attendants never know.

 

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy and Times wires contributed to this report. Staff writer Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at lapeter@sptimes.com or 727-893-8640 .

 

Cary Frounfelter, Please pick up your Idiot of the year award....

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Wow. I can't stand stupid people. I know we all make mistakes, and I'm the first to admit I do as well, but really.

 

When you're operating a 208 foot tall super machine with dozens of people flying at 70 mph around it, and you're too lazy and ignorant to follow safety regulations?!?

 

COMON!!! Now, the half the GP is now worried about ride safety, because of the dumb media interviewing drama queen 14-year olds who say we're not strapped in on a rollercoaster, and now I can't take my girlfriend on the best coaster in NY on Saturday!!!

 

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, and I deeply respect what Hackemer has been through in Iraq, but still, stupid people just have to ruin everything because they're so freaking selfish and lazy. You're operating a ROLLER COASTER!!! Comon', this is rediculous. Why can't anybody be smart anymore.

 

And why the hell will this investigation take so long?!?!? Is it that hard to figure this crap out?!?!?

 

Sorry about the rant, but I was so excited to ride RoS and now I'm screwed because of dumb people.

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^^ I was going to visit Darien Lake myself this coming Saturday, so I can definitely understand your being annoyed, but the fact that someone died opens up a huge can of worms. They can't just re-open the ride that soon after someone died on it, even though all signs point to it being human error/stupidity that caused this, they need to make sure that it is indeed the case and do everything possible to prevent this from happening again. It doesn't happen overnight.

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Even *IF* it was ruled a suicide that doesn't change the fact the park still allowed him to ride (granted if he tried to sneak on with pants on or something). Regardless of his attentions the park still allowed him to ride which shouldn't have happened.

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Local news reported at 11 that the investigation has been completed and an official report will be released tomorrow. The only thing confirmed as of now is that there was no mechanical issues or failures. Everything was operating as normal.

 

Channel 2 then continued on this long rant about ride safety and how the department of labor is not releasing Darien Lake's ride safety history and inspection records at this time. Then they were whining about how they were hiding information, stating that they submitted a freedom of information act request as well as gotten their lawyers involved...

 

Drama please...

 

Anyway, more news tomorrow. Most likely confirming operator / rider negligence or something of the like.

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Wow. I can't stand stupid people. I know we all make mistakes, and I'm the first to admit I do as well, but really.

 

When you're operating a 208 foot tall super machine with dozens of people flying at 70 mph around it, and you're too lazy and ignorant to follow safety regulations?!?

 

 

This.

 

Yes it's a routine operation which gets very repetitive, and yes it can get boring and drone on. But it comes down to one fact: It's machinery that can kill you/others, and you're the one operating it.

 

I drive forklifts and the like at my job every day. Yes it's routine, second nature even. But I'm always alert, and following safety protocols. I learned the hard way that complex machinery can kill you or cause injury. I had an accident in which I could have lost my foot had the fail safes not worked.

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I think the ride ops are totally to blame for this incident. The rules state that riders need TWO LEGS to ride! It is the responsibility of the crew to enforce this. Before they dispatch the train, they are responsible for making sure that the riders are secure. That's why they check restraints! It's really obvious: He had no legs, a lap bar will be able to secure him.

 

As I said before, there is no way in hell I would have dispatched that train with him on it.

 

Not sure how the signs are in America but in Australia it clearly says that if you have prosetic limbs or none at all then you are not permitted to ride so shouldn't he of seen the sign first and not of hoped in line? It's not the park's fault or the ride ops it's the idiot who actually hoped on the ride without telling any of the staff about his disability.

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Seeing the safety guide (sign) and actually abiding by it are 2 TOTALLY different things. Not to mention the operator is also supposed to be the the 2nd line of defense to make sure safety procedures are being adhered to.

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