State Fair ride's owner wants access to seized 'Vortex' ride
Posted December 18, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.