WJTV News Channel 12 - RALEIGH: Owner of Vortex ride faces $56k penality

More than $100k in penalties issued in NC State Fair accident

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Five people were injured on the Vortex when the ride jolted into motion at the 2013 N.C. State Fair. Five people were injured on the Vortex when the ride jolted into motion at the 2013 N.C. State Fair.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The North Carolina Department of Labor issued penalties for the owner of a ride on which five people were injured at the State Fair last year, as well as the man's employer.

The state Department of Labor announced the civil fines Wednesday after a lengthy investigation into the Oct. 24, 2013, accident with the Vortex ride.

Family Attractions Amusement of Valdosta, Ga., and ride owner Joshua Macaroni were fined more than $56,000 each for alleged willful violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina

The Labor Department cited Macaroni and Family Attractions Amusement for.

The Labor Department said "willful violation is cited under the North Carolina OSH Act where the evidence shows that the employer committed an intentional and knowing, as contrasted with inadvertent, violation of the act."

Macaroni and Family Attractions Amusement were also cited for various violations of the Amusement Device Safety Act of North Carolina. Macaroni faces a $600 penalty for those violations, while Family Attractions faces a $900 penalty.

The citations come after five people were injured when the Vortex jolted into motion at the N.C. State Fair while people were exiting the ride.

According to a 22-page investigation document released Wednesday by the Labor Department, ride operator Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow told deputies that Macaroni added wiring in the electrical box to bypass safety mechanisms, which caused the accident.

"Mr. Tutterrow stated that during the inspection of the ride on [Oct. 17, 2017], there was a problem with the right passenger carrier," the report said. "After telling the inspector that the problem likely occurred when he was securing a loose relay, Mr. Joshua Macaroni entered the electrical control cabinet where the relay was located.

"Tutterrow stated that he was on the deck next to Josh and was told not to allow anyone to see what was occurring. Tutterrow stated that a jumper was added to allow the ride to spin. After less than 10 minutes of work in the cabinet where the loose relay had been found, the ride was reengaged and worked correctly."

The ride's relief operator, Omar Toranzo, told investigators that he was aware that the green light on the ride's control panel stayed on when the safety restraints were open. He said that when he told Macaroni and Tutterrow about the light, they told him they were aware of the problem and not to worry about it.

Tutterrow faces a $350 penalty for various violations of the Amusement Device Safety Act of North Carolina. Toranzo also faces a $350 penalty.

Macaroni and Tutterrow already face criminal charges over what prosecutors say was intentional tampering to disable safety devices that were supposed to keep the ride from moving unless patrons were properly secured. Four patrons and a ride worker were injured when the Vortex suddenly lurched into motion, flinging them through the air.

Macaroni and Tutterrow have both pleaded not guilty to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a felony.

Among those injured where Anthony and Kisha Gorham, their son Justen Hunter and niece Shykema Dempsey. One of the ride's attendants, Brian Shelters, was also injured during the incident.

As a result of their injuries, the family filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking $150 million in punitive damages against Powers Great American Midways and Family Attractions Amusement.

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