North Carolina amusement park adds additional inspections after roller coaster crack

(ABC NEWS)—A North Carolina amusement park that came under investigation this week after a video surfaced online of parkgoers riding a roller coaster with a large crack in the support column has announced plans to repair the ride and says it will implement new inspection procedures.

Video footage of the Charlotte-based Carowinds’ popular Fury 325, known as a “giga coaster” due to its dramatic height of 325 feet (99 meters), showed a key support beam bending with the top visibly detached as cars packed with unsuspecting passengers barreled by at speeds of up to 95 mph (150 kph).

Carowinds, which straddles the North Carolina and South Carolina border, said its maintenance team and the ride manufacturer, Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard, determined this week that a fracture had formed along a weld line in one of the steel support columns. It plans to remove and replace the column and expects a new one — engineered by the same manufacturer — to be delivered to the park next week.

Park staff had closed Fury 325 late last week after a visitor pointed out the sizable crack. Investigators from the North Carolina Department of Labor were on site Monday morning as the park’s other attractions remained open. The department has not yet released the findings of its investigation.

After Carowinds installs the new column, it plans to conduct accelerometer tests, which use sensors to measure the vibration of a structure. The parks says it will then operate the ride for 500 full cycles while running various tests on the entire coaster. The manufacturer and a third-party testing firm will then perform a final inspection.

“While we regularly inspect the coaster, we are planning to implement additional inspection procedures to ensure we are making every effort to promptly identify and address future potential issues,” the park said in a statement. The new procedures, it said, will include the regular use of drones outfitted with cameras to inspect hard-to-reach sections.

A date has not been set for the ride’s reopening.


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