Safety Questions Arise After Incident at Carowinds’ Fury 325 Roller Coaster
A crack in the support beam of the Fury 325 roller coaster at Carowinds amusement park prompts a shutdown and raises safety concerns. The ride’s manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard produced the “Batman: The Dark Knight” roller coaster at Six Flags New England.
The Fury 325 roller coaster at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina, was shut down this weekend due to a crack found in one of its support beams. The incident, which came to light on Friday, has raised questions about the safety measures in place at Cedar Fair amusement parks. Cedar Fair owns Carowinds, Ohio’s famous Cedar Point amusement park, and several other parks around the US. Uprise RI’s own Greg Brailsford happened to be returning from Cedar Point as part of a report on long distance travel in an EV when this incident was first reported. “One of the reasons our family makes the trip to Cedar Point is that not only are the rides fun and intense, but their safety record is outstanding. But this does make you wonder how on earth a park owned by the same company missed what seemed to be a clearly visible crack for over a week”, Brailsford said.
The incident was particularly shocking because the ride in question was manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), a Swiss company widely considered among coaster aficionados and ride operators as the gold standard of roller coaster manufacturers. B&M rides are oft cited as having very little downtime and hold an impeccable safety record with no catastrophic failures or fatal injuries in the company’s entire history. B&M is the manufacturer behind the “Batman: The Dark Knight” roller coaster at nearby Six Flags New England.
Some consider the Fury 325 incident to be a testament to B&M’s reputation. While the support beam in question completely sheared from its load bracket, the ride continued to function without catastrophe thanks to redundancy built into the surrounding support beams. However, the recent incident has brought to light that even the most reliable manufacturers are not immune to parks that fail to conduct proper visual inspections.
The crack in the support beam was first noticed by a park patron, Jeremy Wagner, who was waiting for his children to finish their ride. He spotted a light coming through the pole and decided to record a video as the next car passed by. The video clearly showed the beam moving as the car whizzed by, a sight that Wagner described as sending a shock through his chest.
Despite the immediate risk, the crack went unnoticed by park officials for over a week. Tiffany Collins Newton, another park visitor, shared a photo taken on June 24 that appeared to show the beginnings of the crack. The photo, however, was only examined after the ride was closed on Friday, revealing the overlooked flaw.
Despite the financial motivation to avoid catastrophe, the crack remained undetected for a significant period, posing a potential risk to the park’s visitors. The park shut down the ride after becoming aware of the crack and initiated a thorough inspection. Carowinds has since applied a wrap around the crack to avoid moisture and wildlife from entering before a full investigation can take place. The ride will remain closed until repairs have been completed.
The incident serves as a reminder that even the most reliable manufacturers can face unforeseen challenges. It underscores the importance of rigorous and effective inspection protocols to ensure the safety of amusement park visitors. Despite the incident, B&M’s reputation as a reliable roller coaster manufacturer remains largely intact, but the event has undoubtedly served as a wake-up call for the industry. Some have speculated that the crack was caused by geological shifting over time while others with engineering backgrounds have said that the support beam’s design and placement may have created too high of a load as the train passes this section of the track.
Fury 325, which first opened to the public in 2015 at a cost of approximately $30 million, is expected to remain closed for several months and likely through the remainder of 2023. State officials have announced plans to inspect the ride on Monday. Despite the incident, the rest of the park will remain open.