RALEIGH, NC - A ride operator has been charged with three felony counts of assault after several people were hurt on the Vortex at the North Carolina State Fair, a sheriff's office said Saturday.
Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, a 46-year-old from Quitman, Georgia, faces felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.
"After inspection of the ride, we determined that it had been tampered with and critical safety devices were compromised," Harrison said.
Witnesses said the ride had stopped Thursday night and people were getting off when it restarted, resulting in five injuries.
By Saturday, three of those hurt were still hospitalized at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, while two others had been released.
Harrison had said the ride operator was one of the people injured, though it wasn't clear whether he is among those still in the hospital this weekend. The victims included family members between the ages of 14 and 39.
According to the sheriff's office, Tutterrow is an independent ride contractor for a company that only had one ride at the fair: the Vortex.
More arrests in the incident are possible, said Harrison, who added that the investigation is ongoing.
Dolores Quesenberry, a North Carolina Department of Labor spokeswoman, said Thursday night that the fair's rides are inspected three times each day of the event.
The 10-day fair ends Sunday.