Police arrested a carnival ride operator after five people fell out from the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, N.C. on Thursday. Fair attendees dialed 9-1-1, saying that "five people fell straight from the sky," reports WNCN. Riders were trying to exit the Vortex when it started back up again, throwing five people onto the ground.
One witness told ABC 11, "They were falling like rain drops. A person fell and landed head first on the ground and was just completely knocked unconscious. People were falling everywhere. I'm pretty sure a girl fell right in front of me at least four feet away and just slammed on there. It was terrible." The five injured people were sent to the hospital and three remain there: The victims range in age between 14 and 39 and include family members.
Police arrested Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, and charged him with three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury, reports ABC 11. Investigators believe Tutterrow intentionally sabotaged the ride. Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison told ABC 11, "After inspection of the ride, we determined that it had been tampered with and critical safety devices were compromised."
Apparently, the ride had had various problems before the accident. State officials told ABC 11 that last Monday, they received reports of a stuck restraining bar, and viewers wrote to ABC 11 saying that just the day before the accident, Wednesday, they saw the ride jerk back into motion right after people evacuated. Another woman said she saw the ride smoking just hours before the accident.