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DA: Owner sabotaged State Fair ride

Posted December 20, 2013
Updated January 9, 2014

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— The owner of a ride that injured five people at the North Carolina State Fair bypassed safety mechanisms on the ride before the October fair, a Wake County prosecutor said Friday.

Joshua Macaroni, who is charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury in the Oct. 24 accident. The ride's operator, Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., faces the same charges.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said during a court hearing Friday morning that state inspectors found problems with the electrical box of The Vortex during a check before the State Fair, and Macaroni was ordered to fix them, along with a cracked weld.

When inspectors checked to see if the repairs had been made, Cummings said, a witness overheard Macaroni tell Tutterrow to stand behind him to block people's view as he installed wiring in the electrical box to bypass safety mechanisms on The Vortex. The extra wiring allowed the ride to operate when the safety bars weren't locked in place.

Three people were hospitalized for weeks after authorities say The Vortex, which is known for its wild twirls and flips, started moving while people were getting off and dropped some unsecured passengers 20 feet onto the ride's metal floor.

Macaroni's attorney, Dan Boyce, said the evidence in the case will show that Macaroni was out of state at the time of the accident.

Cummings said authorities don't believe that the wiring was changed with the intent to hurt anyone.

Vortex Defense to inspect Vortex for evidence

WRAL News sources close to the investigation have said the ride appeared to have been tampered with as a shortcut to expedite how easily people could get on and off the ride.

Friday's hearing was held because Boyce wants to inspect The Vortex and collect evidence to assist in Macaroni's defense. The ride has been sitting at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh since the accident, and Boyce said continued exposure to the weather only degrades any evidence to be found.

The state Department of Labor and a local engineering professor are helping authorities inspect the ride. Last week, people were brought in from Europe to look at it as well. The ride was manufactured in Italy, and much of the code needs to be translated.

Superior Court Judge Osmond Smith said defense experts can examine and test The Vortex under the supervision of the Department of Labor, the Wake County Sheriff's Office and the Wake County District Attorney's Office by Dec. 31. Authorities must return the ride to Macaroni by Jan. 31, or another court hearing will be held Feb. 3, Smith said.


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  • jscott13 Dec 20, 2013

    This is not sabotage...that word implies that he purposely tried to hurt someone. He was trying to make more money and thought the odds were that nothing would happen. That being said, he deserves to be prosecuted. Wish that the ride operator had stood up and told him no.

  • Stilllearnin Dec 20, 2013

    "They didn't say it was an inspector who overheard that. If you re-read the article you'll see that it said "someone" said it."

    Please point to where I stated the inspectors heard it, I actually copied it straight from the article. It clearly stated "when" the inspectors when to re-check the ride so it implies that they were there when the comment was overheard by someone, my comment was geared to why did that someone not report it to the inspectors and why didn't the inspectors check the ride if the owner was hiding this problem.

  • El Dondo Dec 20, 2013

    Not good. He is in trouble now.

  • LuvLivingInCary Dec 20, 2013

    even if the guy did tell someone to stand in the view of an inspector…it's still the inspectors job to do his job accurately….yep..classic fall guy suit…

    like i said all along, the state will assume no blame in this so pass all blame on down.

  • Dr Sanchez Dec 20, 2013

    "I was under the impression that local inspectors also checked rides at the fair. Am I missing something?" -josephisignoretti

    Yes you are. Ride operators are required to inspect their own rides daily and complete a report that they have checked them. Nobody from the State does that- It's the checker checking themselves. And when something like this happens, it becomes the liability of the checker.

  • WralCensorsAreBias Dec 20, 2013

    I don't buy it. What would the owner possibly have to gain in doing so? There is a cover up going down here.

  • Alexia.1 Dec 20, 2013

    "All he had to do was walk to the State Fair Office and tell them. Or, stop one of the 100's of State Patrol members who are there for the protection of the fair goers." --LovemyPirates

    Maybe, but:
    1) Does he want to lose his job?
    2) Does he have a legal obligation to report modifications his boss makes to a machine?

    I think the answer to both are "no".

  • Alexia.1 Dec 20, 2013

    "I would imagine that any of the various whistleblower protection programs could help in that situation. So if I WAS in his position I would not have kept silent" --Pensive01

    I do not think there is any law that requires him to report anything. And those whistle-blower laws to which you refer -- I'm not even sure they're laws. They most certainly will not apply to private sector jobs. Let him blow a whistle. He'll be fired.

    I still argue that if it was the owner who made the changes, the operator is not responsible.

  • bluegray Dec 20, 2013

    Owner alters the wiring, operator stands to block view.
    Owner is a free man, operator in jail.

  • josephsignoretti Dec 20, 2013

    I was under the impression that local inspectors also checked rides at the fair. Am I missing something? Someone is.....