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Roller coaster with crack in support pillar investigated at Carowinds in North Carolina

<i>Courtesy Jeremy Wagner</i><br/>
Courtesy Jeremy Wagner

By Mitch McCluskey, Jillian Sykes and Raja Razek, CNN

(CNN) — Inspectors were at a North Carolina amusement park Monday to continue investigating a roller coaster shuttered since shortly after a dad spotted a crack at the top of one of its steel support pillars.

“I’m not an engineer, but that’s not right,” Jeremy Wagner thought Friday on his visit to the Carowinds park in Charlotte, he told CNN.

The Fury 325 will stay closed until inspections and repairs happen, park officials have said. It’s one of the tallest and longest rides in a massive park that straddles the North and South Carolina state line.

“The North Carolina Department of Labor … (has) inspectors on site who are working to gather more information,” the agency said midday Monday. “We will be able to make a full assessment and provide further information as it becomes available. Safety always has been and always will be our top priority.”

Personnel with the department’s Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau were expected to visit the site. The agency didn’t share anything else about the nature of its inquiry.

At the park with family, Wagner knew something was wrong when he spotted the aperture in the coaster’s infrastructure, he told CNN. He pulled out his phone and hit record, zooming in on the crack to show the support pillar move slightly out of place as passengers flew by.

“My daughter and niece rode it six times,” he told CNN.

Wagner reported the incident to the park’s guest services but still felt uneasy after he left, he said, “so, I called Charlotte Fire.”

“They called me back within 10 minutes and advised the ride was shut down,” he said.

State or local governments have overseen fixed-site amusement parks since Congress revoked that authority in the 1980s from the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nearly 40,000 injuries were estimated last year on amusement attractions, including rides, waterslides and inflatables, the commission reported.

According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), there were 0.9 injuries per million rides reported in a 2021 Fixed-Site Amusement Ride Injury Survey.

“An excellent safety record is in the best interest of the industry and leaders within it are committed to providing safe and secure attractions for all their guests and visitors,” IAAPA said in a statement.

Fury 325 is “the tallest, fastest, longest giga coaster in North America,” with a peak height of 325 feet and reaching 95 mph, the park says. A “giga” roller coaster has a drop between 300 and 399 feet, according to Kings Island amusement park in Ohio.

The rest of the Carowinds amusement and water park is open Monday, its website says.

All rides, including Fury 325, “undergo daily inspections to ensure their proper functioning and structural integrity,” Carowinds said.

“Safety is our top priority,” it said, “and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our valued guests during this process.”

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Wes Bruer and Dianne Gallagher contributed to this report.

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