Crack in North Carolina roller coaster may have formed 6-10 days before closure, commissioner says

Jul 7, 2023, 8:57 AM | Updated: 2:24 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An ongoing investigation by North Carolina’s Department of Labor found that a large crack in the support column of a towering roller coaster had been visible for at least a week before the amusement park shut it down for repairs.

“It looks like maybe six to 10 days prior, some pictures had been taken that shows the beginning of the crack, and then by obviously last Friday, the thing was completely severed,” Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Charlotte-based Carowinds amusement park came under investigation this week after a video surfaced online of an operational roller coaster with a large crack in one of its columns. The footage of 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 line, has announced plans to repair the ride and says it will implement additional inspection procedures. A park spokesperson did not immediately respond Friday to an email seeking comment on the commissioner’s observations.

The park’s 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 and Wednesday as the park’s other attractions remained open. The department has not yet released the findings of its investigation.

Dobson, a Republican, said he is “very pleased” with Carowinds’ efforts to repair the crack and improve its routine inspection process. But his department is still looking into how the crack occurred and why the ride remained open as long as it did.

The Department of Labor’s Amusement Device Bureau had conducted its annual inspection of Fury 325 in February and only found a few signage issues, which Dobson said the park quickly corrected.

After Carowinds installs the new support 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 places.

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

“We’re going to take as long as it takes,” Dobson said. “And until we’re 100% comfortable issuing that new certificate of operation, we will not do so.”


Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

United States News

Associated Press

3 falcon chicks hatch atop the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — Three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched in a nest built at the top of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, officials said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels said Friday that the chicks hatched in a nesting box set up by the agency atop a 693-foot-tall (211-meter-tall) tower on […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Baltimore police fatally shoot a man who pulls gun during questioning; detective injured

BALTIMORE (AP) — Police officers in Baltimore fatally shot a man who pulled a gun while they questioned him in a different shooting, authorities said. A detective was shot in the chest, and his protective vest likely saved his life, Police Commissioner Richard Worley told reporters. Police were on the city’s south side investigating a […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

California teenager arrested after crowd pounded and kicked a deputy’s car

HIGHLAND, Calif. (AP) — A teenager was taken into custody after a crowd of young people swarmed a deputy’s patrol car earlier this month, kicking and punching the vehicle before the deputy could drive away, a California sheriff’s office said this week. The 15-year-old male allegedly opened the driver’s door of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s […]

7 hours ago

Travelers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport Friday, May 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City...

Associated Press

Record broken for most travelers screened at US airports on Friday, according to TSA

A record was broken ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for the number of airline travelers screened at U.S. airports.

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Biden’s message to West Point graduates: You’re being asked to tackle threats ‘like none before’

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Saturday told graduates of the U.S. Military Academy that their class is being called upon to tackle threats across the globe and preserve the country’s ideals at home “like none before.” Biden said the phrase, the class motto, was apt for the sorts of challenges they […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Texas breaks temperature records amid triple-digit forecast; Oklahoma remains under tornado threat

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Scattered severe storms continued across parts of Oklahoma on Saturday with the risk of possible tornadoes lasting into the night, as some parts of South Texas broke heat records and people were warned of triple-digit temperatures over the long holiday weekend. Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer, although the […]

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Crack in North Carolina roller coaster may have formed 6-10 days before closure, commissioner says