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Safety devices tampered with before North Carolina State Fair ride accident, sheriff says

An operator of a ride at the North Carolina State Fair has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon after the ride injured five people, officials said Saturday.

Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Georgia, was arrested following an investigation into Thursday night’s accident. Witnesses say the Vortex ride restarted as people were getting off.

More arrests are expected, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison told reporters at a news conference late Saturday.

“Through our investigation, talking to witnesses, talking to ride operator, we have determined that this ride was tampered with … and that critical safety devices were tampered with and compromised,” he said.

Tutterrow is employed by an independent ride contractor, the fair said in a statement. The Vortex is the only ride the contractor has at the State Fair.

The victims were taken to Hospital. Two have been released. Three remain hospitalized. They are Anthony Gorham, 29; Kisha Gorham, 39; and a 14-year-old, the statement said.

North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said: “It's an ongoing investigation and there is still a lot of information to be gathered.”

NBC News’ Justin Kirschner and Ali Fateh contributed to this report.