State fair ride owner denies it was 'rigged' before accident

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The owner of the Vortex ride which malfunctioned at the North Carolina State Fair last October has filed a response to the $150 million lawsuit against him.

In April, well-known Florida attorney Willie Gary announced he's representing four people who were hurt when the ride unexpectedly started as people were getting off. Gary initially filed his suit in Durham Superior Court, but the case has since been moved to the federal court system.

At an April news conference, Gary said life for his clients - Anthony and Kisha Gorham, Justen Hunter and Shykema Dempsey - will never be the same.

Anthony Gorham suffered brain and spinal cord injuries.

"There's close to a half-a-million dollars in medical bills, and they've only just begun," said Gary in April. "He's lost sight in one of his eyes, and he may lose sight in the other."

In the early stages of the investigation, Vortex operator Tim Tutterrow was arrested after Wake County Sheriff's detectives alleged he tampered with safety features. Like Tutterrow, Macaroni was later charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

In his filing, Macaroni denies all the charges against him and denies that he "jimmy rigged and rewired" the Vortex. He also contends the Gorham's suit is without merit and he intends to seek money from the Gorhams to pay for attorney and court fees.

In addition to Macaroni, Family Attractions Amusement and Powers Great American Midways, which is the company that operates the fair for the state, were also named in the original lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Family Attractions Amusement - which is owned by Macaroni's parents - said in April that the company does not own the Vortex and was not involved.

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