North Carolina State Fair ride operator in court

Timothy Tutterrow was joined by his wife as he faced felony charges in the 'Vortex' accident.
October 28, 2013 4:32:04 PM PDT
A ride operator facing charges in connection with an accident at the North Carolina State Fair that injured five people last week appeared in court Monday.

Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., is charged with three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury in connection with the mishap.

In court Monday, a judge declined to lower Tutterrow's $225,000 bond after prosecutors said he lives out of state, and could be considered a flight risk.

Tutterrow also has two arrests on his record for cocaine charges. The most recent cocaine arrest was over a decade ago.

Tutterrow had support from his family in the courtroom, including his wife who drove up from Georgia.

Tutterrow's attorney told ABC11 Sunday that Tutterrow is a father, a grandfather, and that he is devastated, distraught, and his thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were hurt.

Investigators said Tutterow was responsible for the controls Thursday when the "Vortex" ride suddenly jolted into gear as people were exiting, dropping some riders from heights which eyewitnesses estimated to be 20 or 30 feet.

The five accident victims, all between the ages of 14 and 39 years old, were taken to WakeMed. Two have been released. The three victims that remain hospitalized are from the same family. They are 29-year-old Anthony Gorham, 39-year-old Kisha Gorham, and a 14-year-old whose name was not released.

New video uncovered by ABC News shown for the first time Monday shows an injured person being pulled away from the ride seconds after it started moving.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said investigators determined the Vortex had been tampered with and critical safety devices were compromised.

An investigation is still ongoing, and additional arrests may be made.

Sources told ABC11 that there is no evidence that Tutterow intentionally tried to hurt anyone.  They said the case is very comparable to DWI cases where people have been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.  They may not have intended to hurt anyone by driving drunk, but should have known that was a possibility - therefore they are considered criminally culpable.

Tutterrow is employed by an independent ride contractor. The Vortex was the only ride Family Attractions Amusement had at the State Fair.

There were two rides named 'Vortex' on the fairgrounds, but fair officials said they were different.

Officials said last week they have already decided the Vortex that malfunctioned will not be at the fair next year and said it is highly unlikely the company will bring any other rides to the fair in the future.

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