Authorities charge ride owner in accident at NC State Fair
Posted November 6, 2013
Updated November 7, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County sheriff's investigators issued arrest warrants Wednesday for the owner of a fair ride that they believe had been tampered with when five people were seriously injured at the North Carolina State Fair last month.
Joshua Gene Macaroni, 32, was charged with two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and one count of felony assault on a juvenile with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury in the Oct. 24 incident involving The Vortex.
He was not in custody early Wednesday evening, authorities said in a news release. They declined to comment further.
Known for its wild twirls and flips, The Vortex had stopped and people were getting off when it started moving again, dropping some unsecured passengers 20 feet or so onto the metal floor.
Three of the people – Anthony Gorham, 29, Kisha Gorham, 39, and a 14-year-old – were still in a local hospital Wednesday, although their medical conditions were not being released.
The Vortex is run by Family Attractions Amusement Co. in Valdosta, Ga., but is owned by Macaroni, the son of the company's founder.
Company spokeswoman Joyce Fitzpatrick released a brief statement Wednesday evening:
"We have just learned of these charges and (Family Attractions founders) Dominic and Ruby Macaroni are very concerned, of course, for their son. Still, their thoughts and prayers are with the persons injured in this terrible accident."
Authorities haven't said what led investigators to charge Macaroni, but Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said last week that, after inspecting the ride, investigators 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.
Two days after the incident, The Vortex's ride operator Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., was arrested on three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Tutterrow, who was still in the Wake County Detention Center Wednesday under a $225,000 bond, accompanied investigators to the State Fairgrounds last week and appeared to be trying to help them as they examined the Vortex.
His attorney, Roger Smith Jr., hasn't commented on the charges but has said that his client is devastated about what happened.
In regard to Macaroni's pending arrest, he said:
"I am not privy to the state's investigation, but we can only assume this is where their investigation led them. My only concern is for Tim Tutterrow and for the well-being of the people who were involved in the accident."