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Family hurt on State Fair ride 'will be healed,' friend says

Posted November 27, 2013

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— For most people, the North Carolina State Fair is a happy memory. For one Wake Forest family, it’s a "terrifying tragedy" that continues to haunt their lives, according to a family friend.

Anthony Gorham, his wife, Kisha, and her 14-year-old son, Justen Hunter, were all getting off the Vortex ride when it unexpectedly started, throwing them and other passengers into the air. Their niece, Shykeyma Dempsey, was also injured on the ride.

The Gorhams each underwent several surgeries and intensive rehabilitation after the Oct. 24 incident. While Kisha Gorham and her son have been discharged from the hospital, 29-year-old Anthony Gorham remains hospitalized.

“He's progressing,” said Nakeisha Sprull, Kisha Gorham's college roommate and family friend. “At this point, that’s what they’re focusing on … We just know that God is a healer and that Anthony will be healed from this.”

Anthony Gorham suffered injuries to his brain, skull, neck and spinal cord, according to the family’s website.

Prior to the incident, both of the Gorhams made a living as social workers. They have since lost their incomes and are battling mounting medical bills. Justen’s father has organized a website that aims to raise $10,000 to help the family with the costs. As of Wednesday, $1,209 had been donated.

“If there is a silver lining, it’s that you really see the goodness in people,” Sprull said.

Vortex Family hurt on State Fair ride 'will be healed'

Justen has since returned to Wake Forest High School, and Kisha Gorham is busy taking care of her two young daughters, who were not at the fair the night of the incident.

“She's just trusting God through this storm and knowing that it's just a storm and she'll be through it in a little while,” Sprull said.

Ride owner Joshua Macaroni and ride operator Timothy Tutterow have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the incident. Both are out on bond. The Vortex ride is still at the fairgrounds and is still being treated as a crime scene by the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Sprull says the Gorhams are not focused on the arrests.

“This is not something that happens every day, and it’s not something that we can live in fear and we can't go anywhere because something bad is going to happen to us,” Sprull said.


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  • geoherb1 Dec 2, 2013

    Who said they were state employees? I couldn't find either in the state employee directory or on the N&O's state employee database. Not all social workers work for the state.

    State employees can receive disability benefits after a 60-day waiting period. As long as the employees have enough vacation and sick leave to cover the 60-day waiting period, they would not have to miss a paycheck. Some employees, however, seem to burn through their vacation and sick leave as soon as they earn them. A friend of mine had a cerebral hemorrhage and missed six months of work. She never missed a paycheck because she had enough vacation and sick leave to cover her absence.

  • baldy64 Nov 27, 2013

    Actually State employees do not have disability of any kind unless you pay into it by a private company.

  • SmileAndNod Nov 27, 2013

    Probably need money for necessities too such as food, mortgage, car, utilities, etc.

  • Fuquay Resident Nov 27, 2013

    blossom is correct, they should have short term disibility provided by the state. It shouldn't take them longer than 2 weeks to start getting the pay. They should have been getting their pay a few weeks ago.

  • blossom3100 Nov 27, 2013

    I am sure the ride owner has to have insurance. If not I know the fairgrounds has insurance..Should be no medical bills and since they worked for the state, they should have disability insurance that should be fast tracked.

  • MerryMemories Nov 27, 2013

    I agree with scubagirl2! The ride owner should be paying every penny of their medical bills!

  • BailChick Nov 27, 2013

    Scuba girl, I was thinking the same thing! The owners should step up to the plate now, not wait for a lawsuit!

  • scubagirl2 Nov 27, 2013

    This family should NOT have to worry about medical bills. Those bills should be covered IN FULL!!!!! There shouldn't even be a question about that.

    If they are NOT paid by the owner of the Vortex then something is horribly wrong