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Monday
Oct282013

Video Shows NC Fair Ride Moments After It Restarted, Injuring Five

ABC News(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- New video shows the horror and chaos moments after a ride at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds suddenly restarted as people were exiting, dropping some riders from heights that eyewitnesses estimated at 20 or 30 feet.

The video, obtained exclusively by ABC News, shows an injured person being pulled away from the Vortex ride, which has been known for thrilling riders with its wild twirls and flips.

"I heard the people hit that metal floor, just real loud multiple hits," eyewitness Joe Gillie told ABC News.

As of Sunday night, three people remained in a Raleigh hospital in good to critical condition, including a 14-year-old boy. Eyewitnesses reported seeing passengers thrown off the ride while others held on.

Investigators determined the Vortex had been tampered with and critical safety devices had been compromised.

The ride's operator, Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Georgia is expected to appear in court later Monday morning after he was charged Saturday with three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon that inflicted serious bodily injury.  He's being held on a $225,000 bond.

Police have yet to release any known motive, and Tutterrow's attorney told ABC News his client is "devastated" and his "thoughts and prayers are with the families" injured at the fair.

Authorities said the investigation is continuing and additional arrests may be made.

Tutterrow, who is a married father of two, has worked for Family Attractions Amusement Co. LLC of Valdosta, Ga., for four years, ABC News has learned.

Family Attractions Amusement, which supplied the Vortex for the annual fair, told ABC News in a statement, "It has an excellent equipment safety record and has never before experienced an incident with any of its rides like this one."

The Vortex is the only ride the company had at the State Fair.

Fair officials now say the Vortex had a problem with a switch last Monday. The Labor Department did inspect the ride after the problem was reported and corrected. After that, police said the ride was tampered with.

Ambulances initially rushed five victims, ranging in ages from 14 to 39, to WakeMed Hospital around 9:17 p.m. Thursday. The two others who were hurt were treated and released early Friday morning.

The three victims that remain hospitalized are 29-year-old Anthony Gorham, 39-year-old Kisha Gorham and the 14-year-old whose name was not released, according to ABC News affiliate WTVD-TV.

The severity of their injuries has not been released.

After the incident, attendance at the fair was significantly lower than it was last year.  There were 82,163 people at the fair Friday, down from 92,418 people on the fair's second Friday last year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio