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US Roller Coaster Shut Down After Man Records Proof of Fatal Flaw

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For the Fourth of July weekend, Jeremy Wagner was waiting for his kids to take just one more ride at the Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he saw something that didn’t look just right.

Viewing a support pole for the Fury 325 roller coaster, Wagner noticed daylight coming through where the pole joined the main structure.

He waited for the next car to roll by and, using his phone, he recorded the pole. Playing back the video, Wagner was shocked: As the car whizzed past, the pole was separating from the main structure, according to a WBTV-TV in Charlotte reported Saturday.

“When the car came by, I saw it move,” he told the outlet.

Wagner immediately contacted park security, showed them the video and told them to shut down the roller coaster.

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Unsure if park officials would take immediate action, Wagner wasted no time – he called the fire department, later learning the ride had been closed as a result of his video.

Tragedy was avoided in the midst of Carowinds’ 50th anniversary celebration.

Following the shutdown, the park said in a statement to WBTV that maintenance workers were inspecting the problem.

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“Carowinds today closed Fury 325 after park personnel became aware of a crack at the top of a steel support pillar,” the park said.

“The park’s maintenance team is conducting a thorough inspection and the ride will remain closed until repairs have been completed. … As part of our comprehensive safety protocols, all rides, including Fury 325, undergo daily inspections to ensure their proper functioning and structural integrity,” it said.

But there lies a problem — WBTV reported it received a photo of the crack from Tiffany Newton that had a timestamp indicating it had been taken at least seven days before Wagner saw the problem.

Following Wagner’s discovery, his daughter Caroline, who repeatedly rode Fury 325, said, “I’m really surprised that someone from the parking lot had to get that crack because I feel like the employees should’ve gotten it.”

Inquiries to the park from WBTV on why inspections failed to discover the crack got no comment.

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Gary Kilpatrick, a North Carolina engineer and amusement ride expert, said the crack could have come from defective materials or welding or from fatigue from continued use, according to a report Tuesday by WBTV.

“When these machines go through this cycle of stress over and over again, that’s what we as engineers call fatigue stresses, and over time if you have a problem in some area, it will manifest itself in a form of a failure like that,” Kilpatrick said.

Undetected, the crack could have cause stressed elsewhere on the structure.

“If it would have never been caught and allowed to run like that over time, then it could have led to a catastrophic failure, maybe,” Kilpatrick said.

Fury 325 is billed on Carowinds’ website as “the tallest, fastest, longest giga coaster in North America.” It’s over 1.25 miles long with a peak height of 325 feet and reaches speeds of 95 mph.

Wagner’s immediate recognition of the danger and his quick action have been credited to his background, which has included being a paramedic and volunteer firefighter.

A similar incident occurred in 1978 when a civil engineer riding a Chicago area commuter train saw what looked like a crack on a bridge carrying another railroad line.

Unsure if it was truly a crack or a marking of paint or grease, the man called railroad authorities, who discovered the bridge, which carried elevated passenger trains, was in danger of immediate collapse.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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