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Criminal Justice

Carnival ride operator is charged in state fair injuries

Posted Oct 28, 2013 7:07 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The operator of the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fair is facing charges in the malfunction that injured five people last Thursday, three of whom remained hospitalized on Sunday.

Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury, report the New York Times, CNN and the Raleigh News & Observer.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said at a news conference on Saturday that the Vortex's safety devices were tampered with after the ride was inspected. Harrison said the change may have been made to keep the ride running, the News & Observer says.

On Monday, the Vortex had been disabled by a bad solenoid, which helps shut the ride down when seat restraints aren’t down. The Solenoid was replaced, according to the state labor department, which inspects rides before the fair begins and does spot checks throughout the event.

The riders were injured as they were exiting the Vortex. A witness said the ride started after safety bars were lifted, which should have disabled the ride.

Tutterrow's lawyer, Roger Smith Jr., said his client is "absolutely devastated for what’s happened."

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