South Carolina

OSHA investigating after worker suffers injury to ‘extremity’ working at Carowinds

Carowinds to open new ‘double launch’ roller coaster, hotel for 2019 season

Carowinds announced plans Thursday for construction of a new "double launch" roller coaster, "Copperhead Strike" which will stretch more than half-a-mile. The theme park will also build a hotel and restaurant.
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Carowinds announced plans Thursday for construction of a new "double launch" roller coaster, "Copperhead Strike" which will stretch more than half-a-mile. The theme park will also build a hotel and restaurant.

A contract worker inspecting a ride 200 feet above the ground was injured Wednesday at Carowinds amusement park, emergency officials said.

South Carolina workplace safety officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at Carowinds Wednesday after starting a probe into the incident.

“S.C. OSHA is on-site and investigating,” said Lesia Kudelka, spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. “Investigations generally take at least eight weeks. S.C. OSHA looks for any OSHA violations that may have contributed to the incident.”

The injury happened while the person was working on the 301-foot tall Windseeker ride, said officials with the Flint Hill Fire Department.

“Upon Flint Hill Fire Department and Piedmont EMS arrival to the scene, (officials) discovered a male worker working on the Windseeker ride with an injury to an extremity,” Flint Hill officials said in a statement.

The amusement park straddles the South Carolina and North Carolina state line. The incident happened on the York County, South Carolina side of the park, officials said.

The worker was lowered to the ground by other workers before emergency crews arrived, said Flint Hill officials and York County Emergency Management Director Chuck Haynes.

The call was originally dispatched around 9 a.m. as a rescue but the worker was on the ground when emergency crews arrived, Haynes said.

“He was above ground but did not fall,” Haynes said.

Lisa Stryker, spokesperson for Carowinds, told The Herald the worker was a contractor inspecting the Windseeker ride.

“At approximately 9 a.m. today, a third-party contractor sustained an injury while inspecting the Windseeker,” Stryler said. “The contractor was safely lowered to the ground, and was immediately transported to the hospital.”

Emergency officials from both York County and Charlotte were on the scene, Haynes said. Flint Hill Fire Department, Pineville, N.C. Fire Department, and Charlotte fire officials are there, along with Charlotte-Mecklenburg MEDIC and Piedmont EMS.

In 2018, park officials announced the Carolinas’ first double-launch roller coaster, Copperhead Strike, will open this year. The coaster will be more than half a mile of turns and inversions, lasting more than two minutes and reaching more than 40 mph in 2.5 seconds.

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Copperhead Strike is part of a 7-acre country-themed area to include Blue Ridge Country Kitchen and other rides. In late 2019, a 130-suite hotel will open.

The park opened in 1973. Carowinds has grown into a 400-acre theme park with more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. It has 14 rollercoasters and a 26-acre water park.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.
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