The carnage at the North Carolina State Fair last week was caused by tampering with safety features on the Vortex ride, investigators believe. Arrest warrants state that Timothy Tutterrow, the ride operator, turned the ride into a "deadly weapon" by interfering with the technology, causing it to start again while people were exiting and dumping people to the ground from 20 to 30 feet up, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. Five people were injured and three are still in the hospital.
Witnesses say the ride started again after safety restraints had been lifted, leaving riders who had been unable to jump off desperately trying to cling on. Tutterrow, 46, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon. A carnival safety consultant says it doesn't sound like the harm was intentional, but "there was a problem that went undiagnosed, and they just looked for a quick fix." Tutterrow is "married, he has kids, and he’s absolutely devastated for what’s happened," his lawyer says. (Read more state fair stories.)