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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Ride operator arrested after machine malfunctions, tampering is suspected

On the night of Oct. 24, as riders at the North Carolina State Fair exited the Vortex, the spinning ride unexpectedly jolted into motion, throwing riders onto its metal deck.

Five victims were rushed to the hospital, two of whom were in critical condition.

Fox News reports that, as of Oct. 25, two of the victims had been released, while three others remained hospitalized.

The incident is said to have been the result of tampering.

After an investigation by the Wake County sheriff’s office, Vortex ride operator Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

According to the sheriff’s office, Tutterow disabled safety devices in order to keep the Vortex in operation, as shutting it down would result in a loss of revenue.

“Through our investigation, talking to witnesses and to the ride operator, we have determined that this ride was tampered with … and that critical safety devices were tampered with and compromised,” said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison at a press conference on Oct. 26.

While Tutterrow has been charged, the sheriff’s office is continuing its investigation.

“It’s an ongoing investigation, and there is still a lot of information to be gathered,” North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler told NBC News.

Tutterrow’s family commented on the incident, saying that Tutterrow meant no harm in his actions.

“Tim’s not a bad guy,” said Stuart Mouser, the nephew of Tutterrow’s ex-wife, to The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

But Tutterrow doesn’t have to be considered a bad guy to be convicted. Regardless of his intentions, he may still be convicted for assault with a deadly weapon if a court proves that he acted negligently on the job.

The state fair incident has not dissuaded some Guilford College students from attending the fair in the future, however.

“This doesn’t necessarily make me want to not go to the fair,” said junior Daniel McFadden. “Those injured were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’d still go.”

Sophomore John Brvenik would also go.

“Just because you have one bad ride operator, doesn’t mean that they are all bad,” said Brvenik.

On the other hand, first-year Nora Prokosch is having second thoughts.

“Knowing that someone who was hired to operate a ride purposely disabled the safety devices kind of makes me not want to go,” said Prokosch.

The fair, which closed on Oct. 26, will reopen next October.

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