RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina regulators have fined thrill ride operators more than $114,000 after a mishap at the 2013 state fair that left five people injured, three of them critically.
The state Department of Labor announced the civil fines Wednesday after a lengthy investigation into the Oct. 24 accident with the Vortex ride.
Family Attractions Amusement of Valdosta, Ga., and ride owner Joshua Macaroni were fined more than $56,000 each. Ride operators Tim Tutterrow and Omar Toranzo were each fined $350.
Macaroni and Tutterrow already face criminal charges over what prosecutors say was intentional tampering to disable safety devices that were supposed to keep the ride from moving unless patrons were properly secured. Four patrons and a ride worker were injured when the Vortex suddenly lurched into motion, flinging them through the air.
Macaroni and Tutterrow have both pleaded not guilty to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a felony.
Anthony Gorham, Kisha Gorham and their 14-year-old son were hospitalized after being tossed off the Vortex. The family says it has incurred massive medical expenses as a result their injuries, which will require ongoing care.
As part of their investigation, state ride inspectors discovered and photographed two sections of "jump" wire that had been inserted into the circuit panel of the Vortex ride to bypass safety switches.
Tutterrow is reported to have told investigators that his boss, Macaroni, had installed the first wire a few days before the accident after the ride had malfunctioned and shut itself down. Tutterrow said he had installed the second wire at Macaroni's direction.
Macaroni's lawyer, Dan Boyce of Raleigh, did not respond to messages requesting comment Wednesday.
Those cited have 15 days to either pay the fines or file appeals.
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