Photographer: Wake County Sherriff (courtesy CNN)
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
RALEIGH, NC - A ride operator facing criminal charges over injuries at the North Carolina State Fair was previously arrested on drug charges, according to court records.
Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow of Quitman, Ga., is due in court Monday afternoon to face three criminal counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Tutterrow is in jail on $225,000 bond.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said investigators determined the ride had been intentionally tampered with to bypass critical safety devices, though authorities have provided no details of the evidence against Tutterow.
The "Vortex" jolted into motion Thursday evening as people were exiting, dropping riders from heights eyewitnesses estimated at up to 30 feet.
Three people remained hospitalized on Monday with serious injuries, including a 14-year-old child. Two others were treated and released.
Tutterow's lawyer, Roger W. Smith Jr. of Raleigh, said Sunday that his client is "absolutely devastated" by what happened.
Records show Tutterrow, 46, was arrested in Georgia in 2002 on a felony charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was sentenced to four years of probation under a program for first-time offenders, according to records.
He was also arrested in 1997 in Kentucky on a charge of possessing cocaine. Details of how that charge was resolved by the court were not immediately available.
The Vortex had at least one other technical problem at the North Carolina fair. A safety switch that keeps the ride from operating unless seat restraints are engaged malfunctioned on Monday. The ride was temporarily idled as workers replaced the switch, but it reopened Monday night after being tested, state inspectors said.
The ride was supplied by Family Attractions Amusement Co. LLC of Valdosta, Ga.
The Labor Department said its inspectors performed safety checks on all the rides before the fair opened. Ride operators are supposed to do three daily operational checks and record those in a log, said Tom Chambers, the chief of the department's ride inspection unit. State inspectors then perform checks of the logs to confirm operators are complying with the rules.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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