Darien Lake Theme Park Resort Set to Re-Open Ride of Steel
Operational and Communications Changes Approved and Implemented
Based on recommendations from the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and the park’s own internal reviews of
the tragic accident that occurred on July 8, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort will re-open the Ride of Steel today,
“The safety of both our guests and team members always has been, and remains, our top priority,” said
Darien Lake General Manager Christopher Thorpe. “We were all devastated by this tragedy and are
committed to doing everything we can to prevent something like this from ever reoccurring. To this end,
we have enhanced training programs, increased audits of safety procedures and enforcement, and made
disability ridership information more accessible throughout the park.”
“We offer our continued condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant James Hackemer; who remain
in our prayers. Our commitment to our guests is we will continue our sharp focus on safety, providing
them with a secure and fun experience, while honoring the lessons we can all learn from the life of
Sergeant Hackemer,” added Thorpe.
Since opening nearly fifty years ago in 1964, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort has entertained more than
35 million guests. The park invests its greatest amount of time and resources into safety. This incident
was the first-ever ride-related fatality to occur at the park.
Working with the DOL, internal, and other experts, Darien Lake is instituting the following changes:
Recertification – All Ride of Steel employees have been recertified including a training that
includes both trainer and trainee sign-off of competency on ride protocol. The training also
includes how to enforce all ride restrictions in a consistent, guest friendly manner. This
recertification includes enhancements to the park’s long-time, multi-part ride training program.
Additionally, all ride operators throughout the park have been re-trained with special emphasis on
these important aspects of their job.
Increased Audits – To augment its existing, daily ride operations audit program, the park has
increased the frequency and type of audits that are conducted throughout the operating day.
Audits will be random and unannounced and will include knowledge of ride restrictions as well
as adherence to operational procedures. A dedicated auditor position has also been created to
further increase the frequency of audits.
Rider Accessibility Guide Awareness – To supplement the ride restrictions posted at the
accessible entrances, and to support the materials currently available at Guest Relations, Darien
Lake has added additional Rider Accessibility Guide signage at every ride throughout the park.
These signs include a box featuring the Guide and also instructions for guests with disabilities to
present the Guide to the ride operator, assuring both the operator and guest that they are aware of
the ride’s restrictions. The Rider Accessibility Guide has also been added to the park’s web site.
“Darien Lake wishes to express its appreciation to both local and state authorities who have diligently
served our community by conducting a thorough and meticulous investigation of the tragic accident that
occurred July 8 on Ride of Steel,” added Thorpe.
Due to misinformation previously reported in the media, the park also clarified several points:
All of the operators exceeded the state’s age requirements for operating rides; they were all over
18 years of age.
Darien Lake did not continue to operate Ride of Steel after the incident. Per design and
manufacturer’s specifications, Ride of Steel Standard Operating Procedure is one train is already
climbing the lift as the other enters the station. In essence, one train replaces the other with only
one train in the station at a time. Two trains cannot be in the station at one time.