DA: Man charged in NC fair injuries cooperating
Posted November 18, 2013
Updated November 21, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. — A thrill ride operator is cooperating with investigators probing a mishap at the North Carolina State Fair that left several people hurt, authorities said Monday.
A judge reduced Timothy Dwayne Tutterow's bond from $225,000 to $100,000 at the request of Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who said the 46-year-old "has been cooperative and helpful with the investigation."
"We've sat down and talked to him," Willoughby told the judge.
Tutterrow, of Quitman, Ga., was released on bond Monday after being jailed since his Oct. 26 arrest. He was operating the Vortex ride last month when it suddenly spun into motion as people were trying to get out, flinging several patrons through the air and seriously injuring three people.
Willoughby said one of those injured remains hospitalized "in very serious condition," nearly a month after the accident. The two others have been released, including a 14-year-old whose name has not been disclosed.
Tutterrow and ride owner Joshua Gene Macaroni, 32, are each charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of assault on a juvenile with a deadly weapon.
Macaroni, also from Quitman, was not present when the injuries occurred. He is free on $225,000 bond and was not required to appear in court Monday.
Wake County sheriff's said investigators have determined that a safety mechanism designed to keep the ride from moving when the restraint bars weren't locked in place had been disabled.
People close to the investigation said that the tampering wasn't malicious but was only a shortcut to make the process of getting people on and off the ride easier.
Authorities haven't commented on a motive, and Willoughby again declined to speak further about the case Monday, including just what assistance Tutterrow has provided. He has been seen visiting the ride with detectives after the fair ended, appearing to show them how the machine worked.
Tutterrow's lawyer, Roger Smith Jr., says his client would never have intentionally harmed anyone but has declined to discuss details of the case.
"Every time I go to see him over at the detention center, his first concern is only about the families that were injured on the ride," Smith said.
Macaroni's lawyer, Dan Boyce, says the ride owner plans to plead not guilty and expressed confusion as to why his client is charged.
As a condition of their bonds, Tutterrow and Macaroni are required to have no contact with one another pending trial.
The next court hearing in the case is set for Dec. 18.