7 Nov

Critical safety features in the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fair had been tampered with according to investigators, allowing the carnival ride to be set in motion while riders were attempting to exit. The ride operator, a 46-year-old man from Georgia is facing felony assault charges in relation to the NC State Fair tragedy; his first court appearance was last week.

Timothy Tutterrow has been charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon after the ride malfunctioned and caused serious injury to at least five people. Bond was set at a quarter of a million dollars in the assault case.

No details on what exactly was tampered with on the carnival ride have been made available. Some speculate that it was something that allowed a manual override of computerized sensors. There was a problem with the ride before the accident, however press from the NC State Fair says the issue was fixed prior to the incident.

Tutterrow is facing serious criminal charges as a result of the ride malfunction. Assault with a deadly weapon that results in injury is a felony in North Carolina. The minimum sentence for a person convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon that causes serious injury is about two years in prison, before any time added or taken off for prior criminal history and other aggravating or mitigating factors.

Investigators have hinted at the possibility of additional charges being filed in the NC State Fair assault case, but have not indicated whether those charges would implicate others or would mean additional charges for Tutterrow.

Learn More: NC State Fair Tragedy Ends In Assault Arrest