Vortex riders hung on as others fell
Posted October 29, 2013
Updated October 30, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — When the Vortex stopped, Louisburg College students and friends Chardonnay Patterson and Khaliyah Donaldson thought they would continue on with a fun night at the fair. But then the ride started up again. Donaldson was partially harnessed and Patterson had no harness on at all.
Witnesses say the ride went up about 20 or 30 feet in the air, flipping upside down, dumping five people to the metal floor, and leaving the women with nothing to do but hold on.
"My eyes were closed the whole time," Patterson said. "I'm just telling her, 'Please don't let me go.'"
"The next thing I know, people were laying down unconscious and all that."
Patterson hurt her shoulder clinging to the ride, and Donaldson had some bruises, but they realize their injuries were minor compared to the five people hospitalized that night, and the three who remain at WakeMed five days later.
Both hope the on-going investigation into that incident results in punishment for the person responsible.
Ride operator Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., was arrested Saturday and faces three counts of assault with a deadly weapon in the case. District Attorney Colon Willoughby and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison have both said that there is a possibility of someone else being charged. College athlete clung to Vortex
There are still some unanswered questions we are trying to get to the bottom of," Willoughby said Monday. "These are very serious charges, and we want to make sure we are proceeding in the right way."
Donaldson agrees. "Whatever punishment he gets, he deserves it 'cause he hurt five people. A lot of people were in emotional distress," she said.
The pair said they rode the Vortex earlier Thursday, and it was after their second ride that something went wrong.
Donaldson had trouble getting out of her harness. "It released, but it just got to the last click ... and it wouldn't let me," she said. That last click may have been what kept her from falling.
Patterson said her shoulder was so sore after hanging onto the ride that she had it checked out the next day at a hospital in Virginia. She credits her conditioning for the Louisburg basketball team with enabling her to hold on for so long.