Crack in N.C. roller coaster seen for days before it was shut down
A crack in a roller coaster's support beam was visible as many as 10 days before a viral video showing the damaged beam prompted officials to shut down the ride at Carowinds in North Carolina on June 30. Officials say the crack in the Fury 325 coaster was evident six to 10 days prior to that viral video being taken – yet the ride remained open.
Jeremy Wagner, a patron of the park, said he was the one who took the viral video of the crack while his kids were on the ride. The Fury 325 is a two-passenger roller coaster that reaches 325 feet of height and has a 81-degree drop, according to Carowinds. The park says at 1.25 miles long, it is the longest steel coaster in North America and it even crosses the state line between North and South Carolina.
Wagner's video shows a crack in a beam that appears to hold up the rails of the coaster. As the coaster roars by, the column appears to sway.
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Wagner told CBS Charlotte, North Carolina, affiliate WBTV he immediately showed park security the video in an effort to shut down the ride. He at first didn't get a clear answer on if they would shut it down and he later called the fire department, learning that his video led to the shutdown of the ride.
North Carolina Department of Labor is conducting an investigation into the incident and has not made its findings public. "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 told the Associated Press.
CBS News has reached out to the department for further information and is awaiting response.
In a statement on June 30, park officials said that the maintenance team was "conducting a thorough inspection and the ride will remain closed until repairs have been completed."
In a new statement from July 6, provided to CBS News on Monday, park officials said the ride's manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers Inc., had been inspecting it since July 1. They said Carowinds was working closely with the manufacturers and planned to "remove and replace the existing support column."
The new column, which will be made by B&M, is expected to arrive this week, they said.
"Following the installation of the new column, and as part of our normal protocol for rides such as Fury 325, we will conduct an extensive series of tests to ensure the safety and integrity of the coaster," the officials said. "These will include an accelerometer test that uses sensors to measure any variation in the ride experience. After that, we plan to operate the ride for 500 full cycles, performing tests and inspections of the entire ride throughout that period."
After this, the park will work with the state's Department of Labor's Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau to prepare for the ride's reopening, officials said, adding that date has yet to be determined.
Dobson told the Associated Press he is "very pleased" with Carowinds' efforts after the incident. The department is investigating how the crack formed and why the ride remained open. "We're going to take as long as it takes," he told the AP. "And until we're 100% comfortable issuing that new certificate of operation, we will not do so."
Caitlin O'Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.