Local News

State Fair ride's owner wants access to seized 'Vortex' ride

Posted December 18, 2013

Investigators examine the control panel of the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds on Oct. 29, 2013. Five people were seriously injured Oct. 24, 2013, when the equipment malfunctioned while fairgoers were getting off the ride.

— The attorney for a fair ride owner facing criminal charges after several people were hurt at the North Carolina State Fair is asking a judge to expedite access to the ride to assist in his client's defense.

A hearing on the matter is set for Friday morning in the case against Joshua Macaroni, who is charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury in the accident that injured five people.

Macaroni's attorney, Dan Boyce, said in a court filing that the prosecutors have no objection to the defense inspecting The Vortex after they finish their examination but that they have not said when that will be.

The ride, known for its wild twirls and flips, has been sitting at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh since the Oct. 24 accident.

"Given that the outdoor elements may naturally destroy potentially exculpatory evidence, Mr. Macaroni requests an expedited hearing and immediate access to the ride for inspection, examination and testing," Boyce wrote in the motion.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Thursday that the state doesn't object to the defense examination but thinks there needs to be oversight and parameters for the review to be sure the ride's evidentiary value isn't lost.

Those issues are best worked out by a judge, he said.

"I think the two sides don't agree about (the charges), and we need a judge to fashion what may be an appropriate legal mechanism for the inspection of the machine," Willoughby said.

Three people were hospitalized for weeks after authorities say The Vortex started moving while people were getting off and dropped some unsecured passengers 20 feet onto the ride's metal floor.

A criminal investigation found that a safety mechanism designed to keep the ride from moving had been disabled. WRAL News sources 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 ride's operator, Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., was also arrested in the case. He also faces three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Boyce said Nov. 7 after Macaroni – also of Quitman, Ga., – was arrested that he was "puzzled" as to why his client was charged.

"We look forward to working with law enforcement so we can learn their theory on why Josh is somehow responsible for this terrible tragedy," Boyce said.

19 Comments

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  • 42 Dec 19, 11:13 a.m.

    "Hey WRAL,, I really like the soft porn ads / links below the articles" exador7

    Those links are automated and are picked according to your browsing history. I only see bible psalms and investment ads.

  • QDMC Dec 19, 11:03 a.m.

    @exador7

    Those pop-up ads you are getting at the bottom of the screen come from ad-choices and are based on your browsing history. If you don't want porn ads on the bottom of WRAL maybe don't search for so much soft-core porn...

  • LocalYokel Dec 19, 8:30 a.m.

    "oversight and parameters for the review"

    These sudden standards are applied to a defendant but something the government failed to provide for this ride BEFORE it hurt people.

  • less_govt_is_better_govt Dec 18, 5:38 p.m.

    Oh look a Willoughby witch hunt being orchestrated by Donnie's deputies. One hand washes the other right guys? Especially since next year is an election year. Donnie is already in the running, pending multi-million dollar lawsuit and all.

    The problem in wake county is you can charge and accuse a turnip of a crime that does not mean it committed said crime.

    Too often those who can recklessly file charges in wake county are allowed to do so with no accountability for their actions.

  • BigBrokeBill Dec 18, 3:23 p.m.

    Two questions, was the ride tampered for more than one day and if so, was the owner of the ride responsible for a safety inspection each day prior to the rides use?

  • exador7 Dec 18, 3:20 p.m.

    Hey WRAL,, I really like the soft porn ads / links below the articles

  • jonara Dec 18, 3:13 p.m.

    "Shouldn't this be like the case of the Cary fire?"---zacksmill---
    Um, no, it's not. In this case people were actually injured. Not bilked half a mil for dousing a culvert fire.
    Next question.

  • timetochange Dec 18, 2:48 p.m.

    This story is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO old. Let it die wral

  • 1775 Dec 18, 2:34 p.m.

    The persons posted in front of this ride, providing fire watch from their state issued SUV's, are probably hoping for an expedited process as well.

  • sunshine1040 Dec 18, 2:25 p.m.

    Owners lawyers should have access to all evidence to prepare defense. I do not know why the equipment malfunctioned but I do know that leaving steel set up outdoors can cause rust and corrosion unless properly maintained.

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