The man who operated the ride at the N.C. State Fair that malfunctioned in 2013 and injured a family was sentenced to probation in Wake County Superior Court on Monday, bringing to close the criminal side of the case.
Timothy Dwayne Tutterow, 49, pleaded guilty a year ago in June to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. But sentencing was delayed until after prosecutors could resolve the case against Joshua Gene Macaroni, the owner of the Vortex ride.
Macaroni was sentenced in February to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $22,500 fine as part of a plea arrangement with prosecutors.
Tutterow was scheduled to be sentenced in March, but the court proceedings were delayed to give two of the five people injured on Oct. 24, 2103, time to recover from a car wreck they had just been in.
Macoroni, the owner of the ride known for its fast flips and wild twirls, was accused of installing jump wiring into an electrical box on the ride that bypassed safety measures designed to prevent the Vortex from starting without safety bars in place. Tutterow was present at the time and knew the safety features has been tampered with.
Durham resident Anthony Gorham, 30 at the time of the accident, suffered brain, skull, neck and spinal-cord injuries. He was comatose for several months after the accident, according to Wake County prosecutors.
Gorham is blind in one eye and suffered from seizures after the accident. He has been unable to go back to work.
Tutterow issued a brief apology in court.
Roger Smith Jr., the Raleigh attorney defending Tutterow, asked the judge to consider his client’s cooperation with the investigation as a factor in the sentence. Tutterow also had agreed to testify against Macaroni if necessary.
That willingness to cooperate also helped resolve the civil lawsuit brought against Macaroni, Tutterow, and two companies – Family Attractions Amusement LLC, the Georgia company that brought the Vortex to the fair, and Powers Great American Midways, the company that had the contract for the N.C. State Fair midway in 2013.
The details of that settlement have not been disclosed.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley sentenced Tutterow to 18 to 34 months in prison, but suspended the active jail time to the 22 days Tutterow had already spent behind bars before posting bond.
Tutterow remains on probation for 18 months, unsupervised in Kentucky, where he now lives and works as a truck driver.