Ride Operator Arrested At North Carolina State Fair
A ride operator was arrested at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh after five people were injured on a ride. The Wake County sheriff announced the arrest, explaining the operator was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
Sheriff Donnie Harrison explained that the ride, called the Vortex, was tampered with after an inspection that happened on Monday. The injuries happened when the ride began to move while riders were exiting.
Timothy Dwayne Tutterow, 46, of Georgia faces three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury, reports ABC News.
Three people are still hospitalized in good to critical condition on Sunday after the ride malfunctioned on Thursday evening. Harrison added, “After inspection of the ride, we determined that it had been tampered with and critical safety devices were compromised.”
The Vortex ride won’t reopen at the fair, according to officials. CNN notes that the ride operator was one of the people injured, though it wasn’t clear if he was among those still in the hospital. Other victims included family members between the ages of 14 and 39.
Witnesses to the accident recalled how some passengers were thrown off the ride while others held on. Max Byrn, 13, recalled, “There were actually some people that were still, I think, strapped in and holding on, really hanging on for their lives.”
Harrison added that an investigation into the ride accident is ongoing and it is possible more arrests could be made. Delores Quesenberry, a North Carolina Department of Labor spokeswoman, stated on Thursday night that the state fair’s rides are inspected three times per day.
It wasn’t if inspections of the Vortex after Monday were completed, or if they showed that the ride was tampered with. The sheriff’s office explained that Tutterow is an independent ride contractor for a company that only had one ride at the fair. Attendance at the fair after the accident dropped dramatically, even though the ride won’t be in operation for the rest of the fair.