CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's been more than a month since a disturbing crack on a popular Carowinds roller coaster was discovered and reported. In the wake of the revelation of the crack on the Fury 325, park officials have shut the ride down for repairs and testing. But while North Carolina leaders take a closer look at the coaster, how do officials in South Carolina rate the park for safety?
When WCNC Charlotte first reported on the cracked support beam on June 30, Carowinds officials shut the ride down. Days later, the park was visited by investigators from the North Carolina Department of Labor.
Workers would begin the process of removing and replacing the cracked support beam in mid-July. On July 19, WCNC Charlotte reported the roller coaster was being tested to ensure it was safe to ride again.
But then another issue was found: NCDOL confirmed on July 28 a "weld indication" had been discovered. A Carowinds spokesperson said park leaders were conducting tests and handling repairs at the time.
Since Carowinds crosses state lines into South Carolina, however, some park rides are also subject to inspection by officials from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SC LLR). WCNC Charlotte reporter Kayland Hagwood has been taking a closer look at more than 260 pages of documentation from the SC LLR about their findings tied to Carowinds. To note, the Fury 325 sits on the North Carolina side of the park.
Inspection reports from 2020 to 2023 show efforts to inspect electrical equipment, ride speed, abnormal wear, and more - all standard procedures.
Among the small number of issues found were a seatbelt replacement for the Intimidator ride this year, a train removed for maintenance on the Afterburn this year, and seat repair work done on the Nighthawk in 2020.
In North Carolina, reports show rides were inspected and approved to run each year for the same period.
North Carolina Labor Commissioner Josh Dobbs adds that during this year's check, the Fury 325 only had minor issues related to signage which were immediately corrected.
Michael Hupalo of MAH Consulting is a structural engineer with more than 30 years of experience inspecting amusement park rides. While he hasn't worked on rides at Carowinds, he said the reports show an effort by inspectors to keep riders safe, adding that daily inspections are also supposed to be conducted by park staff - something Carowinds said it's doing.
“These are mechanical devices. They're machines and they require maintenance, they require inspection. The same sort of attention you would provide to most any other machinery," Hupalo said. “If there were no deficiencies, no indications found at that time, that's what it says. That doesn't mean that something can't happen down the road.”
There's still no timeline for when the Fury could reopen.
TIMELINE: Fury 325 shut down
June 30: Crack found on ride by Jeremy Wagner. His video goes viral on social media, leading to Carowinds closing the ride.
July 3: North Carolina Department of Labor begins inspections of Fury 325.
July 4: Bolliger & Mabillard, the manufacturer of Fury, arrives at Carowinds for inspection.
July 6. Carowinds releases details on how Fury 325 will be repaired.
July 12: Work begins to replace the cracked beam.
July 19: Overnight testing begins. The ride is put through several cycles.
July 28: North Carolina Department of Labor confirms a "weld indication" was found on the ride.