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August 27, 2011 - 1:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A Rochester man heading westbound on Lockport Road reportedly said he was looking at his GPS and didn't see a stop sign at the intersection with Route 98 before his pickup truck slammed into the minivan of a Albion resident.

Neither driver was seriously injured.

David Youngman, 55, of Yankee Court, Rochester, was cited for alleged failure to stop for a stop sign.

His truck struck a minivan driven my Marcia Zambito, 59, of Allen Road, Albion.

Zambito was taken to UMMC by ground ambulance with a complaint of pain in her leg and arm.

Youngman was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital, because he's a Rochester resident, with a complaint of chest pain.

(initial report)

August 27, 2011 - 12:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy.

A fire that destroyed a barn on West Bergen Road, Le Roy, on Friday night, remains under investigation.

It was spotted by a neighbor just before 8:20 p.m., who alerted the owner, Brian Boneberg, who then called 9-1-1.

The blaze was small when it was fist spotted, but spread quickly.  

By the time Le Roy Chief Mike Sheflin arrived on scene, the barn was fully involved.

The structure was less than 100 feet from a house and Sheflin praised the volunteer crews who kept the flames from spreading.

"We had a fast response from our firefighters and we were able to control the fire quickly," Sheflin said.

Strong water flow from the nearby hydrants also helped the responding departments swiftly beat back the flames, Sheflin said.

No injuries were reported.

Besides Le Roy, responders included Pavilion and Caledonia. Stafford filled in at Le Roy's hall and York filled in at Pavilion's hall.

Le Roy Ambulance was also at the scene.

(Initial Report)

Photo below submitted by a reader.


August 26, 2011 - 7:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, liberty pumps, bergen.

Press release:

Bergen NY, August 24, 2011 – For the fifth year in a row, Inc. Magazine has named Liberty Pumps to its annual ranking of the 5000 fastest-growing privately owned companies in America.

This year the firm placed No. 3745 – its highest ranking yet. The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy – America’s independent entrepreneurs.

The companies on this year’s list report having created over 350,000 jobs in the past three years, and aggregate revenue among the honorees reached $366 billion, up 14 percent from last year.

In the past three years Liberty has added 33 jobs to support sales growth of over 40%.

"Liberty Pumps is pleased to be recognized by Inc. as one of the fastest growing private companies in America.  Everyone in our entire organization has helped play a part in this success. Our ability to provide exciting new products, fueled by an aggressive sales and marketing team and then backed by a high level of service to the customer- has resulted in this tremendous honor for our company" said Charlie Cook, President and CEO of Liberty Pumps.

In addition, the company, which manufactures sump, sewage and other types of pumps for residential and commercial use has also been cited as a Rochester’s Top 100 Company 10 out of the past 12 years.

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and a list of the fastest-growing companies that can be sorted by industry and region can be found at

August 26, 2011 - 7:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

While no part of tropical storm Irene -- surely, you've heard about it by now -- is expected to reach Genesee County, National Grid is mobilizing all of its resources to respond to the potential havoc the storm could bring to the state's power system.

Reader Paul Schwartzmeyer spotted this caravan of National Grid line trucks heading east on the Thruway through Genesee County this morning.

We also received this press release from National Grid. The power company says the storm could disrupt natural gas and power transmission in Upstate New York.

Press Release:

ALBANY, NY -- National Grid is actively preparing for the potential effects of Hurricane Irene, which meteorologists currently expect to reach the northeast this weekend.

Depending on Irene's track, portions of National Grid's Upstate New York service area could experience damaging winds, heavy rain and flooding that could cause power outages and affect the natural gas delivery system.

National Grid already has activated its storm emergency plan, which includes calling in extra crews; pre-staging crews and materials to areas anticipated to be most severely impacted; reaching out to customers, including those on life support, to urge them to prepare for the storm; identifying low-lying, flood-prone areas and facilities for monitoring and potential isolation; holding multiple planning calls; and ensuring that key areas such as operations and customer call centers are appropriately staffed.

National Grid also is reaching out to state, regional and local officials to inform them of advance plans and keep the lines of communications open before, during and after the storm.

"We know that our customers always depend on us to restore their electricity or gas service as quickly as possible, and especially during major storms," said Ellen Smith, National Grid chief operations officer.

"We are hard at work preparing for whatever Irene may bring and will keep our customers informed throughout this event. We also want our customers to be ready for Irene, and urge them to start preparing now so they will be safe during and after the storm."

National Grid offers the following tips for customers to minimize inconvenience and maximize safety in the event that storm-related service interruptions do occur:

Keep National Grid's power outage reporting number handy -- 1-800-867-5222 (Upstate New York) -- in case it's needed.

Natural gas customers should call 1-800-892-2345 to report gas emergencies for Upstate New York.

Customers also can stay in touch with National Grid by following the company on Facebook, Twitter and on our website

Power outage information also is available on the company website at At the site, go to "Outage Central," and select your state.

Listen for important announcements on television and radio from emergency officials about possible evacuations or other emergency procedures.

Keep a number of working flashlights, extra batteries and at least one battery-operated radio since National Grid provides news media with timely information regarding service restoration efforts.

If you depend on electric-powered life-support equipment, such as a respirator, make sure that you have notified National Grid. If you have a medical emergency always dial 9-1-1.

Prepare a family emergency kit that includes, at least water, a three-day supply of food, a can opener, first-aid kit, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, local maps, cell phones with chargers, prescription medications and glasses, matches in a waterproof container, paper and pencil.

Customers using generators should make sure their wiring system is disconnected from the system before operating the generator. When using a portable generator, make sure the main circuit breaker in the electric service panel box is in the "off" position.

If you have a fuse box instead of breakers, pull out the main block, remove the fuses and reinsert the empty block. This is necessary to prevent your generator's electricity from going back into the system, which could endanger the lives of line crews and your neighbors. Also, it's required by the National Electrical Code.

Be sure to only use generators outdoors. Exhaust fumes contain poisonous carbon monoxide and can kill or cause serious injury.

Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV, and avoid power lines.

Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings ahead of time to keep food fresh longer in the event of a power outage.

Prepare your business by securing the exterior of your building. Inside, cover and move equipment and furniture to a secured area. Protect data with backup files. Make plans for supplies and services so that you are prepared to work with limited supplies of cash, water, sewer or power for at least two weeks.

National Grid is an international energy delivery company. In the U.S., National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).

It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to more than one million LIPA customers.

August 26, 2011 - 7:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, Route 20.

Press release:

The Route 20 bridge over Tonawanda Creek in the Town of Alexander will close on Monday, Aug. 29, to undergo steel repair work for approximately three weeks. 

The structure is located between Route 98 and Brookville Road. A detour is posted directing motorists to take Route 98 south to Stroh Road to Sandpit Road back to Route 20. All local traffic will be permitted up to the work site on both sides.

Work includes general repairs to the floor-beam connections and other steel components of the structure.

For real-time travel information, call 511 or visit <>.

August 26, 2011 - 6:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, consolidation.

Press release:

Please be advised that Batavia City Council will hold a meeting with the Batavia Town Board on Wednesday, Aug. 31. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Batavia Town Hall, 3833 W. Main St. Road, to discuss the City / Town Charter Task Force consultant's recommendation.

August 26, 2011 - 6:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Two Rochester residents were charged with various offenses Thursday after the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force initiated a traffic stop on the car they were in.

Arrested where Abdullah H. Shareef, 30, of Locust Street, and Michael D. Brewer, 41, of Grand Avenue.

Shareef was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, plus unregistered, uninsured and uninspected motor vehicle.

Brewer was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

Both suspects were issued appearance tickets.

August 26, 2011 - 6:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, elba, Le Roy.

Sara K.L. McCabe, 26, of Lincoln Avenue, Le Roy, is charged with felony DWI, aggravated DWI (children under age 15 in the car), driving without an interlock device and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. McCabe was stopped by Le Roy Police on Thursday after a witness complained of seeing a person in a car consuming alcohol. McCabe was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Geoffrey Charles Saxton, 28, of North Byron Road, Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08, failure to reduce speed and moving from lane unsafely. Saxton was charged following a one-car accident at Mullen and Morganville roads, Stafford, at 11:59 p.m., Monday.

Shuvon J. Williams, 36, of 5 Lewis Place, Batavia, and Rochelle V. Tomlin, 35, of 2 Lewis Place, Batavia, are charged with petit larceny. Both are accused of shoplifting from Tops Market on Wednesday.

Barbara Jean Alessi, 52, of Rand Street, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant stemming from a petit larceny charge. Alessi is accused of stealing from a business on Lewiston Road. She was taken into custody by the Rochester Police Department and turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

August 26, 2011 - 6:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Batavia police are looking for two males allegedly involved in a fight behind the board of education building on Washington Avenue.

One is described as wearing a white shirt and red shorts and the other male is reportedly wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.

The initial call had 30 people involved in the fight. When the first police car arrived on scene, everybody took off running.

August 26, 2011 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, east pembroke.

A head-on collision, with one victim complaining of chest pain, has been reported on Route 5 at Powers Road in the Town of Batavia.

The road is blocked.

East Pembroke Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 6;30 p.m.: A second ambulance is requested to the scene.

August 26, 2011 - 5:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield.

A Level 3 sex offender who is accused of committing new criminal sex acts against a child was denied his request for lower bail today.

Anthony L. Nicosia Jr., 54, of Albion Road, Oakfield, is being held in the Genesee County Jail on $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond.

The bail was set in the Oakfield Town Court.

Judge Robert Noonan gave both the prosecutor and defense an opportunity to speak to the bail issue, but then seemingly cut off the discussion saying that as a matter of law, the only thing he could do at this stage of the proceedings against Nicosia is decide whether the bail set by the lower court was excessive.

It's not, Noonan ruled, and he can't lower it at this stage.

Assistant District Attorney Will Zickl argued that bail certainly shouldn't be reduced, if anything it ought to be raised.

Zickl said the alleged victim has been interviewed further since Nicosia's arrest and detailed more alleged assaults. There is the possibility, Zickl said, of further criminal charges.

It's also possible, Zickl indicated, that there may be additional victims.

Nicosia, who was arrested earlier this week and charged with criminal sex act, 3rd, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child, was convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree in April, 1995.

August 26, 2011 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in entertainment, books, genesee county history.

Just about everybody knows the story of the day Frank Sinatra stopped in Batavia, but what about the day Johnny Cash stopped in Corfu?

It was mid-March, 1985 and the Cash tour bus pulled into the former Super Duper and John and June loaded their carts with groceries, stopping for autographs and pictures along the way.

The story is one of hundreds reprinted in Entertaining Genesee, a new book by County Historian Susan L. Conklin (photo, right) and research assistant Judy Stiles.

The book covers Genesee County residents who sought fame and fortune on stage, screen and in music as well as recounts the famous and nearly famous who passed through the area.

It's the 11th book published by the county's history department -- each paid for by the procedes of the sale of the previous book and funds from the Genesee County Historians Society.

The book is $20 and available at the history department in the old fire house on West Main Street in the City of Batavia.

Using reprinted stories from local newspapers (mostly the Batavia Daily News), letters, telegrams and other periodicals, the book recounts local brushes with the entertainment industry.

Of course, Tom Beers and Joey Pero are in there, but so is Harry Crosby, an actor who garnered some fame in New York City in the early 20th Century, and Miss Mary M. Howard, who wrote a march played by John Philip Sousa.

There's also articles on the times Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Tommy Dorsey came to Batavia. Some of the stories are of the "wish I could have been there type," such as Armstrong's appearance. Satchmo arrived late because his bus broke down, and then played for 700 fans until 5 a.m. Admission was only a buck fifty (tax included).

The next book from the history department, scheduled for 2014, will be called "Criminal Genesee."

August 26, 2011 - 1:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, West Main Street.

A tour bus returning from dropping off passengers at the Buffalo Airport broke down this morning on West Main Street at the intersection with Ellicott Street.

The call came in at 9:04 a.m. and the bus wasn't moved until after 11 a.m., causing a bit of a traffic jam for eastbound travelers.

The driver reportedly told Officer Eric Dibble that he was concerned the bus was experiencing mechanical difficulties, which is why he didn't drive on the Thruway back to Rochester.

No passengers were on the bus at the time of the breakdown.

August 25, 2011 - 11:03pm

The plans for growth are aggressive, even lofty, according to Batavia City Manager Jason Molino, but if GCEDC is successful in building the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park to capacity, it could be a boon for Batavia's sewer system and the ratepayers who support it.

The increase in revenue could potentially allow the city to both lower rates -- already among the lowest sewer rates in Western New York -- and fund replacement of aging sewer lines.

Even though the agri-park is in the Town of Batavia, the sewer effluent flows at some point through the city to the city-operated wastewater plant. The town pays the city a fee to ship effluent from the town to the plant. Every thousand of gallons of effluent that flows to the plant will generate $2.81 for the city. (NOTE: Paragraph re-written to clarify the agreement between the town and the city.)

It would take only one O-AT-KA Milk Products-sized plant to make a huge difference, Molino said.

"If you were to see something like another O-AT-KA come in overnight, you could see a huge benefit," Molino said.

The city manager's remarks followed a special meeting of Batavia City Council where the council unanimously approved a plan to provide sewer service to the agri-business park (Councilman Bill Cox recused himself because of a potential conflict of interest).

The development of the park received a significant boost this spring when Alpina Products agreed to build a new yogurt factory on the site. Escrow on the sale of that parcel is expected to close Monday.

The sewer agreement between the city, Town of Batavia and the Genesee County Economic Development Center is key to closing the Alpina deal. 

It calls for the GCEDC, with a contribution from O-AT-KA, to use state grants to build a sewer system for the agri-business park and the O-AT-KA facility. The system would include two new pump stations -- one within the jurisdiction of the town and the other within city limits on O-AT-KA's property. The city and town would take possession of the completed pumps and sewer lines.

Just expanding capacity for O-AT-KA is a huge benefit to the city, Molino said.

"O-AT-KA is our biggest sewer user, our biggest water user," Molino said. "It is one of the largest employers in the county. It gets a larger sewer line to discharge into, so they’re not constrained anymore and they have the opportunity to grow. That infrastructure is coming to us free, no cost to the city users. The other thing is that Ellicott Street (sewer line) is going to be open now for greater growth. So we’ve got two opportunities there."

Some of the sewer lines in Batavia are up to 50 years old. 100 years old, many more are at least 50 years old. It's infrastructure that needs to be replaced pretty soon. And while the city has one of the most aggressive capital improvement projects for its sewer and water systems in the state, there is still a huge need to move quickly to replace old lines.

"To me, that’s really exciting (if the agri-park is successful), to be able to do sewer line after sewer line project, to replace aging infrastructure," Molino said. "That's really exciting."

During the council meeting, Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC (inset photo), told the council that the current gravity system on the Ellicott Street line, the one currently used by O-AT-KA, can only handle 500,000 gallons per year and O-AT-KA needs significantly more capacity to grow. The expansion will give O-AT-KA up to 2.5 million gallons per year of potential flow.

He said the agreement with Alpina is a huge step forward for the project and Genesee County.

"When is the last time we saw a major manufacturer come into the greater Batavia area?" Hyde said. "Maybe 40 or 50 years? We’ve seen a lot of them move out, but not too many move in. Maybe this is the start of something good for our community."

It could also be the basis for pushing forward consolidation between the town and city, one council member observed.

The joint agreement has the Town of Batavia buying sewer capacity from the city and reselling it to agri-park tenants.

The town and the city already have a joint agreement in place for processing effluent in the city's wastewater plant, but the agri-business park highlights the difference in sewer rates between the town and the city.

The town's rate is $5.35 per thousand gallons. If the city and town consolidated, town landowners, including agri-park tenants could potentially pay the city's current retail rate of $3.14 per thousand gallons.

An agri-business park plant producing 15,000 gallons per day would save nearly $12,000 annually paying the city's rate.

Regardless of the rate paid by agri-park tenants, the effluent is all flowing to the same treatment plant, and the quality and efficiency of that plant is the main reason city rates are so low, Molino said.

"That plant is a resource that I don’t think people understand," Molino said. "It’s a special plant. It’s 350 acres. It’s one of the largest lagoon plants east of the Mississippi. It doesn’t use chemical treatment. It’s natural treatment, so there’s no chemical cost. Only four people run it, seven days a week. You find me a sewer plant that has low labor costs like that, low treatment costs -- that's why our sewer rates are some of the lowest in Western New York."

August 25, 2011 - 9:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Kiwanis, Child Advocacy Center.

Lawrence Friedman, president of the Batavia Kiwanis Club, accepts a $350 donation from Bleyke Culver for the Child Advocacy Center.

With some grant funding being cut, local Kiwanians have stepped in to try and fill any potential budget gap. Batavia Kiwanis set a goal of raising $100,000 for the center, which provides assistance to abused children. Other area Kiwanis clubs are being asked to raise another $50,000.

Bleyke, a 16-year-old Batavia resident, was representing the Genesee County foster care program. The county's foster care program provides a number of field trips for foster children throughout the summer.

Typically, the foster children raise funds for their own field trips, but this year, the program received an unexpected donation from a former county employee. The foster children decided to donate some of the extra money in the program to the CAC.

August 25, 2011 - 5:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

Le Roy police suspect somebody has been making "bottle bombs" and letting them explode in an area on the west side of the village.

An investigation began after complaints of gunshots or fireworks heard on the west side of the village.

"Bottle bombs," also known as "works bombs," can be exceptionally dangerous and the Le Roy Police Department is looking for information to help determine who is making them.

Officials also warn residents not to approach any sports drink or 2-liter pop bottles found laying on the ground.

Touching a fully charged bomb can cause it to detonate.

Bottle bombs are made of Drano and tinfoil mixed together in a plastic bottle that is then sealed. Pressure builds up inside the bottle until it explodes. The chemicals inside become a boiling liquid that can cause severe burns and other serious physical injuries.

The bombs are not hard to make and numerous videos of homemade bombs are posted on YouTube.

If a suspected bottle bomb is found, you should move away from it and call 9-1-1 immediately.

The Le Roy Police Department advises that anyone found making these explosives may face criminal charges.

To report information about the possible manufacture of bottle bombs, call 343-5000.

August 25, 2011 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York State Museum, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum selected the Batavia City Centre to display one of 30 exhibitions as part of a statewide remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The governor’s office said, “The exhibitions will give New Yorkers a place to remember the victims of September 11th and to honor the countless heroes who came from all corners of the state to help in clean-up and recovery efforts. The exhibitions will feature historical artifacts from the collections of the State Museum and National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Many of the artifacts being exhibited have never been seen by the public.”

The exhibit at the Batavia City Centre includes a Port Authority Police Car that was recovered from the World Trade Center site. The Port Authority Police Department was the first law enforcement agency to respond to the terrorist attacks.

State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said, “This exhibit reminds us of that tragic day and how we have been able to persevere and value the freedoms we have even more every day. I would encourage everyone to view the exhibit and remember the Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001."

"As the 10th anniversary of September 11th approaches, we should never forget the 3,000 lives lost in the attacks. The 9/11 Memorial Exhibition at Batavia City Hall is a fitting and appropriate tribute, not only to those lives lost but also to the many first responders from across the State who rushed to the World Trade Center to serve their county and fellow Americans," said State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer.

City Council President Marianne Clattenburg said, “The City of Batavia is honored to have been selected to host one of the 9/11 exhibits here at City Hall. I would like to invite every resident from Genesee County and beyond to view this important artifact, as we reflect on the 10-year anniversary of the events of September 11th."

The Batavia City Centre exhibit will be on display in the corridor near city hall now until the end of September. The City Centre hours are: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Although City Centre is closed on Sundays, it will be open on Sunday, September 11th for a remembrance ceremony. The details of the September 11th ceremony will be announced.

August 25, 2011 - 4:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, police.

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department dispatch office is experiencing a problem with one of the secondary nonemergency phone numbers. For police emergencies the public should call 9-1-1.

To reach police dispatch for nonemergencies, the public should call 345-6350. If a dispatcher does not answer the 345-6350 number the public can re-call 343-5000 to reach a Batavia Police dispatcher.

The administrative number for police headquarters remains the same 345-6444.

August 25, 2011 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park.

Sgt. James Hackemer, who died July 8 after being ejected from the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake Theme Park, boarded the roller coaster wearing a Brown Fox racing hat.

As the ride crested a hill on the east side of the ride, Hackemer's hat flew off his head. Witnesses described Hackemer reaching for the hat just before he was ejected from the ride.

Witness statements were obtain by The Batavian along with a complete Sheriff's Office report on the death of Hackemer through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

They provide a few new details of the events surrounding Hackemer's death, including information that seems to contradict the official findings by the Department of Labor (DOL) that ride operators failed to comprehend ride rules and instructions.

Though there is still no explanation for why operators allowed Hackemer to board the Ride of Steel at about 4:30 p.m. that day.

The DOL report released Aug. 16 states:

After exhaustive review of all the documentation and interviews, it appears that the ride operator and ride attendent training materials met the requirements of the manufacturer; However, issues concerning the employees' comprehension of the training material and their ability to retain the associated requirements of their positions, specifically in reference to rider restrictions, became apparent.

Sheriff's Office investigators obtained written statements from all five Darien Lake employees associated with the ride at the time of the accident. The statements, written in each employee's own hand, demonstrate no inability to comprehend English.

Four of the employees are from Western New York and while a fifth is a Jamaican student in the United States on a student work visa, his statement doesn't demonstrate any inability to communicate in English.

Each employee was also required by Darien Lake management -- sometimes more than once in 2011 -- to sign statements indicating they had completed and comprehended required training.

According to a report prepared by lead investigator Sgt. Steve Mullen, the DOL's safety and health inspector -- Brian C. Kock, assigned to the industry inspection bureau -- informed him that all of the employees had taken and passed written exams on ride safety.

The training checklists shows the employees were trained in, among other things, height-checking procedures, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) loading and boarding procedures and standard operating procedure.

The training manual, as well as rules posted at the entrance and exit to the Ride of Steel, state explicitly that a person must have two legs to board the coaster.

The coaster has no shoulder harness, only a T-bar lap restraint and seat belts.

The DOL report said the restraints are designed to hold a patron in the ride not only at the lap, but also at the shin.

Hackemer, an Iraq War veteran, lost both of his legs, including one leg up to his hip, to a roadside bomb.

On July 8, Hackemer, along with his sisters, a nephew and his 4-year-old and 3-year-old children, checked into rooms at the Darien Lake Hotel two hours before Hackemer and nephew went to the theme park.

Upon entering the park, employees directed Hackemer to the guest information booth for ride safety instructions. Hackemer was offered a brochure on safety procedures at each ride, but claimed to already have a copy and refused it. He was then given instructions on how to board rides at the park.

Hackemer, wearing white shorts and a neon green T-shirt, and his 19-year-old nephew who was visiting from Maryland then proceeded directly to the Ride of Steel.

Three of the ride attendants write in their statements that they saw Hackemer board the ride -- being lifted into his seat by his nephew -- and noticed that he was missing both legs.

The statements give no indication that any of the operators thought any further about his handicap, discussed with him his ability to ride the roller coaster, sought out a supervisor's advice or otherwise took any steps to question whether Hackemer should be allowed on the ride or detain him in anyway.

The statements also indicate that the attendants knew nothing about Hackemer's situation, that he was a disabled Iraq War vet, at the time. He is described merely as a handicapped man seen getting on the ride.

Two attendants checked safety restraints for each of the riders in the cars. A third attendent checked an operation board that would display a red light if any of the T-bars were not locked in place. With all lights green, the two operators at two different control panels gave the all-clear signs and pressed their respective buttons to start the ride.

When the ride returned, passengers were screaming that a rider had fallen from one of the cars. All three operators on the boarding platform immediately noticed that Hackemer's seat was empty but that the restraints were still in place.

Witnesses on the ride all described seeing Hackemer's hat fly off his head and him reaching for it before seeing his body fly from his seat.

Hackemer's nephew described the ride coming to the crest of the hill and that he, the nephew, felt his own body lift out of the seat and then he saw his uncle fly from the car.

Evidence gathered at the scene indicate that Hackemer hit the front of the car and that Hackemer died instantly of blunt force trauma to his head.

An emergency medical response from the Darien Lake Fire Department and Mercy Flight was cancelled before law enforcement arrived on scene.

The veteran's dog tags were found on the ground near his body.

When the car pulled into the Ride of Steel boarding platform, one of the attendants said Hackemer's nephew was sitting in the front of the car not moving or saying anything.

Mullen did not request a written statement from the nephew because of his emotional and physical state. The nephew's statements contained in the report are from a verbal interview with him while he was at the theme park's medical station.

The ride attendants were an 18-year-old from Silver Lake, a 21-year-old from Lockport and a 23-year-old from Hamburg. 

The Jamaican exchange student, a 21-year-old living in Batavia for the summer,  was posted at the ride entrance and was in charge of ensuring riders were at least 54-inches tall. The Jamaican also saw Hackemer board the ride and noticed Hackemer was missing both legs.

Since Hackemer came in through the exit, which is point of entry for disabled patrons, there was apparently nobody in place to check his height. Hackemer was 47-inches tall on his left side and 39-inches tall on his right side.

The last employee to give a statement was a 24-year-old supervisor from Spencerport who arrived at the Ride of Steel just as Hackemer's car was arriving at the boarding platform. She did not witness Hackemer boarding the ride.

The Batavian is not releasing the names of the operators because there are no criminal charges anticipated. 

The Ride of Steel was closed for the season last week after an unrelated mechanical failure earlier this month.




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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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