Vortex owner, operator indicted on assault charge
Posted December 17, 2013
Updated December 18, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The owner and the operator of The Vortex ride were indicted Tuesday on assault charges in connection with the incident that left five people seriously injured at the North Carolina State Fair.
Joshua Gene Macaroni, 32, of Quitman, Ga., the owner of the ride, and Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, who was operating the ride, each face three counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.
The Vortex had stopped Oct. 24 and riders were getting off when it unexpectedly started to move again, flinging some riders 20 feet or so onto a metal deck.
The investigation revealed that a safety mechanism designed to keep the ride from moving when the restraint bars weren't locked in place had been disabled, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.
Dan Boyce, a Raleigh attorney representing Macaroni, expressed confusion when his client was arrested and promised to work with law enforcement to determine how their investigation led them to believe that the ride owner was somehow responsible for what he called "this terrible tragedy."
People close to the investigation said the ride appeared to have been tampered with as a shortcut to expedite how easily people could get on and off the ride.
The Vortex is run by Georgia-based Family Attractions Amusement Co., but Macaroni, the son of the company's founder, owns the ride.