WJTV News Channel 12 - Exclusive witness accounts of the Vortex malfunction

Eyewitness accounts of the Vortex malfunction at the State Fair

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Whitney Riggs, middle, was on the Vortex when it malfunctioned Oct. 24. Whitney Riggs, middle, was on the Vortex when it malfunctioned Oct. 24.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Whitney Riggs was on the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fair Oct 24. right before it started malfunctioning, injuring five.

"Everything was fine, they strapped us in. We felt secure. The ride started to go. The second we went upside down my friend's phone fell out of her pocket," Riggs said. 

After the ride finished, Riggs said she and her friends quickly jumped out to find her friend's iPhone.

Little did they know at the time how lucky they were.

"As soon as we got to the other side of the platform to pick up her shattered phone, we turned around and the machine started going again," Riggs said.

Ashley Amoruso was waiting for Riggs and her friends to get off the ride when she suddenly saw the ride start again.

"I was traumatized for at least three nights. I couldn't sleep that night. The worst I've ever seen. People were just falling off left and right," Amoruso said.

"One guy I saw fell flat on his face onto the metal platform. He was just sliding, so there was nothing for him to grab onto," Amoruso said.

She said the safety handles were in the air when the ride started again, so people didn't have much to hold onto.

Three of the five injured were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Deputies arrested ride operator Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., on Oct. 26 and charged him with three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury in connection with the accident.

Vortex owner Joshua Gene Macaroni is charged with two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, and one count of felony assault on a juvenile with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury in connection with the incident.

Both Riggs and Amoruso said they will go back to the State Fair next year but will never be getting on another ride again.

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Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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