Local News

Three months later, Vortex ends run at NC State Fairgrounds

Posted January 21, 2014

The Vortex, the ride that started unexpectedly throwing riders to the ground and injuring five people during the North Carolina State Fair, was being dismantled Tuesday after sitting nearly three months at the site of the incident.

Vortex ride Web only: Vortex ride up and running

Fairgrounds spokesman Brian Long said crews began removing pieces of the ride Monday evening and would complete their work before the forecast rain and snow begin.

Known for its wild twirls and flips, The Vortex started moving while passengers were getting off the ride Oct. 24, dropping some unsecured passengers 20 feet onto the ride's metal floor.

The ride's owner, Joshua Gene Macaroni, and Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, the ride's operator, each face three counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.

Investigators said Macaroni, with Tutterrow's help, bypassed a safety mechanism on the ride that would allow the ride to operate even if its safety bars weren't locked in place.

The machine has remained at the fairgrounds so that investigators for the state and the defense could examine the ride. A judge last month, however, ruled the state turn over the ride to Macaroni by Jan. 31.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings has said 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 ride 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.

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.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • LuvLivingInCary Jan 21, 2014

    LOL at all the people that think there will be a big insurance settlement…Anyone ever heard of bankruptcy of an LLC.

  • whaaaat Jan 21, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Yeah I'm worried they'll get off due to them being over-charged. Will be interesting to see them prove the Vortex is a deadly weapon by means of by-passing safety mechanisms. Would have thought charges around negligence causing injury would be easily proven.

  • dlnorri Jan 21, 2014

    The charges are a little harsh and inaccurate. I hope the DA's have a plan to see the guys do some time for neglect, negligence, and/or endangerment. I would be hard to sell on an assualt charge, and unfortnately we can not send people to ole' sparky for being stupid (see US Congress).

  • heobaker Jan 21, 2014

    Cummings said "authorities don't believe that the wiring was changed with the intent to hurt anyone."
    That's like saying there is no need for the safety switches and devices in the first place.

  • LuvLivingInCary Jan 21, 2014

    Regardless of how much blocking the owner/operater did of the safety inspector…ITS STILL THEIR JOB TO VERIFY AND ENSURE SAFETY…Bring back James Strates and roll the fair in on the railroad. It all went downhill when they started bidding this stuff out.