Those who have been going to the N.C. State Fair for many years know that accidents are rare and safety concerns are uppermost in the minds of fair officials. They know that whirling, spinning rides designed to scare people must be inspected to ensure that scared is all that results from the attractions.
Last week at the fair, however, more happened. Five people were injured, three of them seriously enough to still be hospitalized Monday. They were hurt when the Vortex ride, which spins and flips people around, apparently restarted as people were trying to disembark. Timothy Tutterrow of Georgia, a ride operator, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Tutterrow might have tampered with the safety system of the Vortex in order to keep it running. The prosecution of the case will be painful for victims but is necessary in order to understand exactly what happened.
State Fair officials thoroughly and regularly inspect rides, as they did in this case. After the accident, law officers and those from state departments overseeing the fair determined the problems and, they believe, the causes quickly. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler appropriately expressed concern for the accident victims and attempted, properly, to reassure fairgoers that the rides on the midway were safe.
At this point, it certainly appears all those charged with ensuring fair safety did exactly what they were supposed to do before and during the fair. They met this crisis as they should have and handled it with a fair amount of candor, which helps to reassure the public.