CHARLOTTE, NC — A visible crack in the support beams of a North Carolina roller coaster serves as a reminder of the risks that sometimes arise when riding in amusement parks, especially when families and addicts Thrills flock to the attractions during the summer.
Video of Charlotte-based Carowinds’ famed Fury 325 – known as the “Giga coaster” due to its incredible height of 325 feet (99 meters) – shows a main support beam being bent with the top clearly visible as the cars full of unsuspecting passengers spin at speeds of up to 95 mph (150 kph).
The park, located between North Carolina and South Carolina roads, closed the ride last weekend as questions swirled about how the crack occurred. Those answers remained largely unknown when state investigators were on the scene Monday morning.
Tommy Petty, Director of the Labor Department’s Recreational Equipment Bureau, confirmed investigators “have come and gone” from Carowinds on Monday but declined to share details of their findings. Meanwhile, Carowinds said in a statement that all of their games, including Fury 325, are tested daily “to ensure they function properly and have structural integrity.”
Some Carowinds visitors said they were aware the ride was closed for repairs, but they didn’t prevent them from enjoying the park’s other attractions.
Greg Bledsoe, a 22-year-old with a season pass, visited the park on Monday despite seeing viral video of the Fury 325 track separating from the support beams midway through the ride.
“I’m glad I wasn’t up there because I didn’t want to fall. I’m glad no one fell,” he said.
Although Bledsoe said the video is “a bit shocking,” he remains confident in the overall safety of the park and plans to make good use of his season pass.
“Hopefully they’ll fix it before the season ends so I can ride it a little bit more,” he said of the broken glider. “It’s like the main thing here.”
Industry experts were quick to counter that millions of Americans hop on roller coasters, Ferris wheels, water slides and more without incident. They note the injury rate is extremely low.
Caitlin Dineen, a spokesman for the group, said a 2021 survey compiled on behalf of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions found “0.9 injuries per million rides”. . That year, more than 1,200 ride-related injuries were reported out of the 1.7 billion typical rides that take place each year across 400 locations in North America.
“Safety is a top priority for the global travel industry,” says Dineen. “An outstanding safety record is in the best interest of the industry, and industry leaders are committed to providing safe and secure attractions for all their guests and visitors.”
For Steven Powers, a resident of Columbia, South Carolina, who visited Carowinds Monday with friends, the park’s positive atmosphere outweighed any worries.
“As for any other safety concerns, I don’t believe there are any,” Powers said. “I think subconsciously we always think that something can happen in our minds, but I also know that they have people’s lives in their hands so they will make sure they do what they want. must do on their basis. end.”
Even if amusement park mishaps don’t lead to injury, they can still affect vacations and cause headaches for summer fun seekers.
Shortly after footage of a crack inside Fury 325’s support structure was released, roller coaster riders in northeastern Wisconsin were trapped upside down for three hours before emergency crews arrived. rescue them.
According to Captain Brennan Cook of the Crandon Fire Department, the WJFW reported that the ride had been inspected recently when a mechanical problem occurred, causing the glider to come to a halt midway.
But sometimes deaths happen while hanging out at amusement parks.
In 2022, Orlando’s International Driving District scrapped a 400-foot (122-meter) ride after it was directly linked to the death of 14-year-old Tire Sampson — a Missouri teenager who died while driving. riding that year. before.
Sampson, who lives near St. Louis, Missouri, was visiting Orlando during spring break when he passed away.
An initial report from outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said the sensors on the ride were manually adjusted to double the opening size for the rails on the two seats, leading to the teen not being properly fixed.
Schoenbaum reported from Raleigh, and Kruesi from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press writer Claire Savage in Chicago contributed to this report.