Local News

Ride operator admits he 'negligently altered' controls before State Fair accident

Posted June 17

— The operator of a ride that malfunctioned and injured a family last October at the North Carolina State Fair admits in his response to a lawsuit that he "negligently altered" the controls to the ride before the accident.

Kisha Gorham, her husband, Anthony Gorham, her son, Justen Hunter, and niece Shykeyma Dempsey filed a $150 million lawsuit in April against Powers Great American Midways, which ran the State Fair midway, Family Attractions Amusement LLC, the Georgia company that brought the Vortex to the fair, ride owner Joshua Macaroni and ride operator Timothy Tutterrow.

The family was getting off the Vortex on Oct. 24 when the ride started to move, tossing them onto a metal platform. An investigation determined that a safety mechanism designed to keep the ride from activating when safety bars weren't in place had been disabled.

Tutterrow filed his answers to the allegations in the suit last week in federal court. In the response, he denies that he intentionally changed the electrical circuitry on the Vortex – the lawsuit alleges he "jimmy-rigged" the ride and called him a "short-cut artist" – to move riders on and off more quickly. He said he "negligently re-wired certain circuitry" on the ride, and he asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Investigators with the state Department of Labor said Macaroni added wiring in the electrical box to bypass safety mechanisms before the fair opened and that Tutterrow added a second bypass after the ride malfunctioned on Oct. 21. Macaroni has denied adding or instructing Tutterrow to add bypass wiring to the ride.

The department's Elevator & Amusement Device Bureau and Division of Occupational Safety and Health have levied fines totaling more than $100,000 against Macaroni and Family Attractions for various safety violations.

Powers Great American denied wrongdoing in the case in its answer to the lawsuit and filed a counterclaim against Macaroni and Tutterrow, blaming them for the injuries the Gorhams and the two children suffered.

Tutterrow and Macaroni have each been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.

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  • Shamrock Jun 18, 11:18 a.m.

    "That's excessive, but then we live in a sue happy society"
    If this happened to me and my family, I would sue them for everything I can get! They need to suffer the way these victims are suffering.

  • tiblet Jun 18, 10:19 a.m.

    I don't understand why he thinks the lawsuit is going to be dismissed if he admits that he negligently altered the circuitry. Isn't he admitting his guilt? I am not normally in favor of lawsuits but I do think this family is entitled to have all medical expenses paid and to significant money for pain and suffering, loss of future income, etc. This is a really sad story.

  • luvstoQ Jun 18, 8:48 a.m.

    This is 'one' time when I believe 'suing' is the right thing to do. That is the 'only' way they will receive any money for their bills and loss of future income. This is a young family who will need financial help for the rest of their lives - especially the dad.

    So very sad.

  • sinenomine Jun 18, 8:32 a.m.

    As regards the amount of 150 million dollars:

    (1) Probably the ride operators don't have that kind of money, but have you ever heard of insurance?

    (2) As for the "outrageous" amount let me ask you this - how much would someone have to pay you to lay on your back in a hospital bed for six months, some days not knowing perhaps if you're going to live or die, and then possibly be permanently incapacitated thereafter, and/or be limited in your ability to work or engage in common activities you once enjoyed, and/or require specialized care, equipment, or medications for the rest of your life?

  • anon022 Jun 18, 8:19 a.m.

    Do these people honestly think the owners of the ride or this man either have 150 million dollars?? That's an outrageous amount of money. What little they do get out of them will go to the lawyers.

  • r u crazy too Jun 18, 8:17 a.m.

    I doubt they get the $150 million, but that's just a starting figure for the lawyers. But, the husband's "life" has been altered forever: brain. neck, spinal cord injuries. He probably either can't work or lost his job in the field he was in. The wife had injuries that effect her life style and work. The kids all had life altering experiences. And while nobody intentionally caused the accident, the operator admitted to "altering" the controls. The lawyers will get a big chunk, but the families will get or should get a fair amount also.

  • LuvLivingInCary Jun 17, 7:30 p.m.

    Trust me the only people winning here will be the attorney…It ain't going to be no big windfall either.

  • jscott13 Jun 17, 6:07 p.m.

    Noooo...he did not admit to negligence as defined by this family. He shouldn't have done what he did, but this family is asking $150 million...really???? That's excessive, but then we live in a sue happy society.

  • Geez Louise Jun 17, 5:57 p.m.

    Good luck to the family in their lawsuit. The lawyers will get most of it.

  • jay82308 Jun 17, 4:02 p.m.

    So, he admits his negligence, but wants the lawsuit dismissed? Sure, that's really going to happen for you.