Saturday October 3rd, 2015 11:21PM

Ga. man charged in NC State Fair ride incident that injured 5

By The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Authorities investigating a North Carolina State Fair ride that injured five people have concluded that someone tampered with it, and the ride's operator was being held Sunday on criminal charges.

On the fair's final day, state officials said attendance was down compared to the final weekend of last year's fair and attributed the dip partly to the injuries. They declined to elaborate on how the ride had been tampered with.

Three people remained in a Raleigh hospital on Sunday, three days after the "Vortex" ride suddenly jolted into gear as people were exiting, dropping some riders from heights that eyewitnesses estimated to be 20 or 30 feet.

Investigators determined the Vortex, known for thrilling riders with its wild twirls and flips, had been tampered with and critical safety devices were compromised, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Saturday. Harrison's office did not return messages and officials with the state Labor Department declined to offer further explanation of the tampering and the overall investigation.

Ride operator Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., faces three criminal counts of assault with a deadly weapon in the mishap. Tutterrow was being held in jail Sunday on $225,000 bond and was due in court Monday for a first appearance, said attorney Roger W. Smith Jr.

"Mr. Tutterrow is absolutely devastated by what happened," Smith said in a phone interview Sunday.

Fair attendance on Friday and Saturday was down more than 11 percent compared to the corresponding days last year. While that may have been partly due to colder nighttime temperatures, the injuries probably factored into the decline, said spokesman Brian Long of the state agriculture department, which runs the fair.

"I do understand that this incident may have given some people pause," he said.

He said no further safety measures have been taken for the 100 other rides.

It is uncommon for ride operators to be criminally charged, but safety consultant Ken Martin chalks that up to the industry being largely self-regulated in most states.

"If more incidents on amusement rides were investigated as thoroughly as this ride in North Carolina is being investigated, there's quite possibly the opportunity that more criminal cases would come out. The folks in North Carolina, they don't pussyfoot around when it comes to amusement ride safety," said Martin, owner of KRM Consulting in Richmond, Va., which conducts amusement ride inspections in Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Missouri.

The North Carolina State Fair is known in the industry for its requirement that everything on an amusement ride has to operate or the ride does not move. Several ride inspectors are on the grounds of the Raleigh event daily watching operators and equipment to make sure everything is in order, Martin said.

The people who remained hospitalized were a 14-year-old whose identity hasn't been released; Anthony Gorham, 29; and Kisha Gorham, 39. The Gorhams' family members declined to comment Sunday. The two others who were hurt have been treated and released.

The Vortex had at least one other technical problem at the North Carolina fair. A safety switch that keeps the ride from operating unless seat restraints are engaged malfunctioned on Monday. The ride was temporarily idled as workers replaced the switch, but it reopened Monday night after being tested, state inspectors said.

The Vortex was supplied by Family Attractions Amusement Co. LLC of Valdosta, Ga. The company "has never had an incident with a machine like this before," spokeswoman Joyce Fitzpatrick said.

She said the company's representatives can't explain what happened because they have not been allowed to review the inspection records, which are kept inside the ride, Fitzpatrick said. The ride has been closed since Thursday's injuries.

The Labor Department said its inspectors performed safety checks on all the rides before the fair opened. Ride operators are supposed to do three daily operational checks and record those in a log, said Tom Chambers, the chief of the department's ride inspection unit. State inspectors then perform checks of the logs to confirm operators are complying with the rules.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded 875 injuries associated with amusement rides in 2012, up from 774 injuries the previous year. The cases included people who needed emergency-department treatment for injuries associated with fixed rides in theme parks, mobile rides associated with carnivals or fairs, or inflatable slides or bouncy cabins.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 6 days ago )
Stunning Congress, House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign; tea party declares victory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a tea party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Re...
6:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Tornado heavily damages 10 homes but causes no injuries on island in South Carolina
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A tornado quickly blew through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast early Friday and blew out windows, knocked down trees and heavily damaged ten homes.The tornado touc...
5:08PM ( 1 week ago )
Caterpillar says it may cut more than 10,000 jobs by 2018, lowers 2015 revenue expectation
Caterpillar is planning another round of job cuts that could exceed 10,000 people through 2018, as the construction and mining equipment maker adjusts to downturns in key markets.That could amount to...
10:06AM ( 1 week ago )
Escaped tarantula grounds Atlanta-bound flight in Baltimore
An eight-legged creature that escaped in the cargo hold of a passenger flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International grounded the plane and sent passengers onto another flight.
By The Associated Press
9:06AM ( 1 week ago )