(CTN NEWS) – A recent investigation conducted by the North Carolina Department of Labor has revealed that a significant crack in a support column of a towering roller coaster had been visibly present for at least a week before the amusement park decided to shut it down for necessary repairs.
According to Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson, photographs taken approximately six to ten days prior to the roller coaster’s closure depicted the initial stages of the crack.
By the following Friday, the support column had become completely severed, as Dobson stated in an interview with The Associated Press.
The incident unfolded at Carowinds, an amusement park located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The park came under investigation after a video emerged online, showcasing an operational roller coaster named Fury 325.
This particular coaster, known as a “giga coaster” due to its towering height of 325 feet (99 meters), displayed a prominent crack in one of its columns.
The footage depicted a crucial support beam bending, with the top visibly detached, while the coaster cars, carrying unsuspecting passengers, sped by at speeds of up to 95 mph (150 kph).
Carowinds Announces Repair Plans for Ride with Cracked Support Column
Carowinds, an amusement park located on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina, has announced its plans to repair the ride affected by the cracked support column.
Additionally, the park intends to implement enhanced inspection procedures.
As of now, there has been no response from a park spokesperson regarding the Labor Commissioner’s observations, as they have not immediately replied to an email seeking comment.
Following an assessment conducted this week, Carowinds’ maintenance team, in collaboration with the ride manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard based in Switzerland, identified a fracture along a weld line in one of the steel support columns.
The park will remove and replace the damaged column, expecting to receive a new one engineered by the same manufacturer next week.
Fury 325, the roller coaster in question, was closed by park staff last week after a visitor alerted them to the significant crack.
While the park’s other attractions remained open, investigators from the North Carolina Department of Labor conducted inspections on-site on Monday and Wednesday.
The department’s investigation findings have not yet been released.
Manufacturer and Third-Party Testing Firm to Conduct Final Inspection
Labor Commissioner Dobson, a Republican, expressed his satisfaction with Carowinds’ repair efforts and their commitment to enhancing routine inspection processes.
However, his department is still investigating the cause of the crack and why the ride remained open for the duration it did.
In February, the Department of Labor’s Amusement Device Bureau conducted its annual inspection of Fury 325 and found only minor issues related to signage, which the park promptly addressed.
After the installation of the new support column, Carowinds plans to perform accelerometer tests to measure the vibration of the structure using sensors.
Subsequently, the ride will undergo 500 full cycles while various tests are conducted on the entire coaster. The manufacturer, along with a third-party testing firm, will then conduct a final inspection.
The park stated that it will implement additional inspection procedures to ensure prompt identification and resolution of potential issues.
These procedures will include the regular use of drones equipped with cameras to inspect hard-to-reach areas.
As of now, there is no set date for the reopening of the ride. Commissioner Dobson emphasized that they will take as much time as needed to ensure a new certificate of operation is issued only when they are completely confident.
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