NC roller coaster closed after crack discovered

Jeremy Wagner, zipped to the top of every roller coaster car, faced carnage and death. Wagner noticed a crack in one of the steel support pillars of the Fury 325 ride at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, and as he begged staff to close it, he watched the crack expand and contract each time the car tore through a turn. .

“It could have come unhindered and gone through the parking lot like a steamroller, plowing through pedestrians and cars and anything in its path,” he told The Washington Post.

Sadness did not strike. Wagner’s report led to the closure of Corowinds Anger 325The amusement park is “tall, fast, long Giga Coaster in North America.” One of the park’s marquee attractions, the 1¼-mile ride reaches speeds of 95 mph and peaks 325 feet before plunging riders into an 81-degree drop and 190-foot-tall barrel turn. In a statement, Carowinds Park’s maintenance crew is conducting a “thorough inspection” of the ride. , adding that it will be “closed pending repairs.” A spokeswoman did not provide a timeline for when the ride is expected to reopen.

First-person footage of a test run on the Fury 325, which stands at 325 feet with an initial drop of 81 degrees and can reach speeds of 95 miles per hour. Fury 325 is part of a $50 million multi-year expansion at Carowinds Park in Charlotte, NC (Video: Carowinds Park via YouTube)

“Safety is our top priority and we appreciate our valued guests’ patience and understanding during this process,” spokeswoman Courtney Weber wrote in a statement to The Post. “As part of our extensive safety protocols, all rides, including the Fury 325, undergo daily inspections to ensure their proper function and structural integrity.”

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After receiving Wagner’s report, Weber did not respond to questions about how long it took the Carowinds to stop traveling.

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A season pass holder, Wagner, 45, arrived at Carowinds on Friday morning with her 14-year-old daughter, 12-year-old daughter-in-law, her son and her son’s friend, who is 13. A group of five subtracted the next. I ride for hours, break for lunch, and then hit more rides. By the end of the day, his daughter and daughter-in-law had ridden the Fury 325 eight times; His son and his friend have been there three or four times.

By 6 p.m., Wagner was ready to call it a day. However, the kids wanted to keep going, so he came up with a compromise. He would make the long walk to pick up his truck from the parking lot and drive to the front entrance to pick them up. Meanwhile, kids can squeeze in a few more rides.

So he did just that. While waiting near the entrance, Wagner looked at the roller coasters and admired the engineering that made them possible. As he stared down the Fury 325, a car hit one of the ride’s turns, pressing into the track and exacerbating what appeared to be a crack in the steel support pillar. At first, Wagner dismissed the idea that he had discovered a flaw. He found that this crack was part of the structure’s design.

Wagner scanned other riders’ support systems to support that notion, but found nothing else. He turned his attention to the Fury 325 as another car hit the turn. This time, he saw light shining through the crack before the car passed and the crack widened before the crack narrowed. He knew something was wrong.

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Wagner got out of the truck and flagged down a Corowinds employee who pointed out the crack.

“I said, ‘You all have to stop this ride. That’s bad news,'” Wagner recalled telling the man.

Dissatisfied with what he described as the man’s “lack of urgency,” Wagner went back to the park, where he spoke to more staff members. He eventually spoke to someone at guest services who asked him to send him the video he took of the crack. Once he did, Wagner said, she pulled away.

“The biggest thing for me is there’s no sense of urgency,” he said. Carowinds did not immediately respond late Sunday night to a request for comment on Wagner’s allegation of lack of urgency.

Wagner left nervously. During the one-hour drive, his fear hit him. Fury 325 is one of the amusement park’s main attractions and he knew it would be heavily used during the park’s 50th anniversary Fourth of July weekend. He feared the pillar would fail, shooting a car off the tracks and diving into the crowd below. If tragedy struck and Wagner hadn’t done more to stop the ride, he knew he would blame himself, always wondering if he could have prevented it.

On the way home, Wagner called Carowinds but got through the park’s automated phone system, he said. After returning, he called the fire department in Carowinds jurisdiction. Someone there told Wagner, a volunteer firefighter, that he had a direct line to the park’s security personnel and would contact them. Ten minutes later, the firefighter called back to tell Wagner that the amusement park ride had stopped.

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Relief changed Wagner’s fears.

He said that Carowinds was happy to close the ride and had no intention of going to the park, trusting its engineers to fix the Fury 325 and make it safe again.

“It’s probably better and safer than it was before,” he said.

He said his family will visit Carowinds and plans to let his kids ride the Fury 325 when it reopens.

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