Fright over crack on North Carolina ride serves as reminder of risks at amusement parks

Jul 3, 2023, 9:44 AM | Updated: 5:30 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A visible crack in the support beam of a North Carolina roller coaster served as a reminder of the risks that sometimes arise with amusement park rides, particularly as families and adrenaline junkies flock to the attractions in summer.

Video footage of the Charlotte-based Carowinds’ popular 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 whirled by at speeds of up to 95 mph (150 kph).

The park, which straddles the North Carolina and South Carolina line, closed the ride late last week as questions swirled about how the crack occurred. Those answers remained largely unknown as state investigators were on site in Monday morning.

Tommy Petty, chief of the state Department of Labor’s Amusement Device Bureau, confirmed investigators “already came and went” from Carowinds on Monday but declined to share details about their findings. Meanwhile, Carowinds said in a statement that all of its rides, including Fury 325, are inspected daily “to ensure their proper functioning and structural integrity.”

Several Carowinds visitors said they were aware that the ride had been closed for repairs, but they were not deterred from enjoying the park’s other attractions.

Greg Bledsoe, a 22-year-old season pass holder, visited the park Monday despite having watched the viral video of the Fury 325 track separating from its support beam mid-ride.

“I’m just glad I wasn’t on it because I don’t want to fall off. I’m glad nobody fell off,” he said.

While Bledsoe said the video was “a bit of a shock,” he remains confident in the park’s overall safety and plans to make good use of his season pass.

“Hopefully they get it fixed before the season’s over so I can ride it some more,” he said of the broken coaster. “It’s like the main thing here.”

Industry experts have been quick to counter that millions of Americans hop on roller coasters, Ferris wheels, water slides and many other rides without ever experiencing issues. They note injury rates are extremely low.

A 2021 survey compiled on behalf of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions found “0.9 injuries per million rides,” said Caitlin Dineen, the group’s spokesperson. That year, more than 1,200 ride-related injuries were reported out of the typical 1.7 billion rides that take place each year across 400 locations in North America.

“Safety is the top priority for the global attractions industry,” Dineen said. “An excellent safety record is in the best interest of the industry, and leaders within it 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 positive atmosphere of the park outweighs any worries.

“As far as any other safety concerns, I don’t believe there are any,” Powers said. “I think always subconsciously we think something might happen in the back of our minds, but I also know that they do have people’s lives in their hands so they’re going to make sure that they do what they’re supposed to do on their end.”

Even when amusement park mishaps don’t result in injuries, they can still upend vacations and cause headaches for summer fun-seekers.

Shortly after footage was released of the crack inside Fury 325’s support structure, riders on a roller coaster in northeastern Wisconsin were trapped upside down for three hours before emergency responders arrived to rescue them.

WJFW reports the ride had been inspected recently when a mechanical failure occurred, halting the coaster mid-ride, according to Capt. Brennan Cook of the Crandon Fire Department.

But sometimes deaths do occur on an amusement park ride.

In 2022, Orlando’s International Drive district the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson — a Missouri teen who fell to his death while on the ride the year prior.

Sampson, who lived near St. Louis, Missouri, was visiting Orlando during spring break when he died.

An initial report from outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, resulting in the teen not being properly secured.


Schoenbaum reported from Raleigh, and Kruesi from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press writer Claire Savage in Chicago contributed to this report.

National News

Associated Press

Over 100 masked teens ransack and loot Philadelphia stores leading to several arrests, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Groups of teenagers swarmed into stores in Philadelphia’s Central City on Tuesday, stuffing plastic bags with merchandise and fleeing, although police made several arrests, authorities and witnesses said. An Apple Store was hit at around 8 p.m. and police chased fleeing teenagers, recovering dropped iPhones and a “pile of iPads” at one […]

53 minutes ago

CORRECTS SPELLING OF LAST NAME TO VIERRA INSTEAD OF VERA - Leola Vierra looks at the remnants of he...

Associated Press

Lahaina family finds cherished heirlooms and devastation in first home visit after deadly wildfire

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Leola Vierra stepped gingerly among the hardened pools of melted metal, charred wood and broken glass that are almost all that remain of the home where she lived for nearly 50 years. Sifting through the rubble, she found two cow-patterned vessels, part of her extensive collection of bovine figurines. Nearby, her […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Alaska man charged with threats against Florida sheriff who spoke against antisemitic activity

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man facing murder charges in state court has now also been indicted on federal charges of cyberstalking and threatening a Florida sheriff who spoke out against antisemitic activity, authorities said Tuesday. Joshua Wahl, 31, is accused of emailing a threat to Michael Chitwood, the sheriff of Volusia County, Florida, […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

With spying charges behind him, NYPD officer now fighting to be reinstated

NEW YORK (AP) — A suspended New York City police officer who had been accused — then later cleared — of spying for China is fighting to be reinstated, but the department wants him fired for refusing to be interrogated by the bureau of internal affairs exploring possible disciplinary action. The fate of the officer, […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

5 workers picketing in UAW strike hit by vehicle outside Flint-area plant

SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. (AP) — About five people picketing in the United Auto Workers strike outside a Flint-area General Motors plant suffered minor injuries Tuesday when a vehicle leaving the plant struck them, police said. The striking workers were blocking a driveway, and an employee was trying to leave the Flint Processing Center in Swartz […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Jury convicts man with ties to ‘boogaloo’ movement in 2020 killing of federal security officer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man with ties to the “boogaloo” extremist movement was convicted of murder and attempted murder by a federal jury Tuesday in the 2020 killing of a federal security officer in Northern California during protests against police brutality. Robert Alvin Justus Jr., 33, now faces life in prison for the murder […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Fright over crack on North Carolina ride serves as reminder of risks at amusement parks