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Vortex owner surrenders on charges stemming from State Fair injuries

Posted November 7, 2013
Updated November 8, 2013

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— The owner of The Vortex ride, which authorities say was tampered with when five people were seriously injured at the North Carolina State Fair last month, surrendered to authorities Thursday afternoon, a day after being charged in the case.

Joshua Gene Macaroni, 32, of Quitman, Ga., faces 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.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges during a brief court appearance Friday morning and was released on a $225,000 bond.

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 a metal floor.

Three people remain hospitalized at WakeMed in Raleigh.

Dan Boyce, a Raleigh attorney representing Macaroni, said Thursday afternoon that his client was shocked by the events of Oct. 24 and that Macaroni sends his thoughts and prayers to the passengers who were injured.

But he's unsure why his client was arrested.

"We are puzzled as to why Josh was charged, but we look forward to working with law enforcement so we can learn their theory on why Josh is somehow responsible for this terrible tragedy."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said last week that 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. Vortex Attorney, 'Vortex' owner confused over criminal charges

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.

The Vortex is run by Georgia-based Family Attractions Amusement Co., but Macaroni, the son of the company's founder, owns the ride. It was the only Family Attractions ride at the fair.

Macaroni is the second person charged in the case.

Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, who operated the Vortex, was jailed Oct. 26 on a $225,000 bond for three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

"Josh has no reason to think that Tim Tutterrow did anything to intentionally injure the State Fair visitors who were on the ride," Boyce said.

Authorities haven't said if they anticipate additional charges or arrests in the case.

"(The State Fair) is a public venue that has hundreds of thousands of people that come through it each year, and they deserve the best safety that we can provide for them," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said earlier Thursday. "I think that is what everyone is trying to do, at this point, to make sure we handle this in a way that protects and ensures public safety."

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  • Setnitst8 Nov 8, 2013

    They may be able to hold the owner accountable if he did not have his employees properly trained to maintain and operate the equipment correctly.-hangry

    Maybe in terms of a civil case brought on by the victims, but I'm still scratching my head as to how he was charged criminally.

  • geoherb1 Nov 8, 2013

    To HDStreetGlide: According to earlier reports, the Labor Department inspected the ride before it operated and determined it was OK. Then a switch malfunctioned, and the ride was shut down until the switch could be replaced a few days before the incident. The inspectors determined that the problem was fixed, and the ride was allowed to operate again. Tutterrow is charged with allegedly tampering with the safety devices to keep the ride going instead of shutting it down. I don't know how the Labor Department is responsible for his alleged actions.

  • thepeopleschamp Nov 8, 2013

    "North Carolina is a very vengeful state. It's one of the few states that I know of that will charge a driver in an accident with murder/manslaughter if the other driver in the accident dies." ConservativeVoter

    Someone would only be charged if they caused the accident that led to the death. What state doesn't have a law involving causing a vehicle fatality?

  • Karmageddon Nov 8, 2013

    North Carolina is one of the few states left that still has "contributory negligance" insurance laws. If you pull into an intersection after the light turns green and someone runs the red light from the side and hits you, it can still be partly your fault and you will be held accountable.

  • hangry Nov 8, 2013

    They may be able to hold the owner accountable if he did not have his employees properly trained to maintain and operate the equipment correctly.

  • anotherconcernedcitizen Nov 8, 2013

    I've never heard of NC charging anyone with murder from an auto accident. Not sure about the manslaughter charge either. I think they typically get charged with Death by Motor vehicle.

    I'm not sure that holding people accountable for their actions can be called vengeful. Maybe due-diligence of the law.

  • Brian Jenkins Nov 8, 2013

    Some of you people on here must be attorneys. Shouldn't you be out chasing ambulances?
    Karmageddon
    November 8, 2013 10:34 a.m.
    Report abuse

    But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night

  • ConservativeVoter Nov 8, 2013

    North Carolina is a very vengeful state.

    It's one of the few states that I know of that will charge a driver in an accident with murder/manslaughter if the other driver in the accident dies.

  • Karmageddon Nov 8, 2013

    Some of you people on here must be attorneys. Shouldn't you be out chasing ambulances?

  • anotherconcernedcitizen Nov 8, 2013

    They might charge his parents next for bringing him into this world. How far will they go?

    Priceless!!! Under the new ACA, that's exactly what they will do. Or at least terminate the parents and make the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren pay for their sins. Just like ACA.

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