March 10th, 2014
09:34 AM ET

Winner Declared in Rematch of Marathon Spelling Bee

The D-E-F-I-N-I-T-I-O-N of a good spelling bee may have forever changed in Missouri.

It took seventh grader Kush Sharma more than 90 rounds and two days - separated by about two weeks - to finally get the winning word.

He beat fifth grader Sophia Hoffman, who went out on the word "stifling," earning a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, CNN's George Howell reports.

The two met February 22 at the Kansas City Public Library for the regularly scheduled competition, where they exhausted all the words on a list provided to the judges.

After more than 60 rounds, the match was halted without a winner.

"We didn't want to just go through the dictionary and give them more words," Mary Olive Thompson, outreach coordinator for Kansas City Public Library, said at the time. "We feared that someone would get a word that was too easy while the other would get an extremely difficult word. We wanted to be a bit more calculated and neutral, and we wanted to give each an equal opportunity."

But soon, Kush and Sophia were more than two young, ace spellers from Kansas City. They were national celebrities, appearing on CNN and ABC's "Good Morning America."

That made Saturday's rematch all that much bigger. The library couldn't contain those who came to watch and ended up setting up a live video stream so that about 100 spectators could watch from the lobby, Thompson said.

And this might not be the last time Kush and Sophia duel in the spelling arena.

As Thompson noted, "both students are young enough - they could face each other again" next year.

Until then, the event's organizers are celebrating what was a riveting, historic and - in the end - emotional edition of this year's bee.

"We got to know the kids; they are both great kids," Thompson said. "This is not the last we are going to see of Sophia."

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October 28th, 2013
07:08 AM ET

Ride Operator Arrested After 5 Hurt At North Carolina State Fair

A ride operator has been charged with three felony counts of assault after several people were hurt on the Vortex at the North Carolina State Fair, a sheriff's office said Saturday.

Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, a 46-year-old from Quitman, Georgia, faces felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.

"After inspection of the ride, we determined that it had been tampered with and critical safety devices were compromised," Harrison said.
Witnesses said the ride had stopped Thursday night and people were getting off when it restarted, resulting in five injuries.

By Saturday, three of those hurt were still hospitalized at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, while two others had been released.
Another ride operator was among the injured, though it wasn't clear whether he was among those still in the hospital this weekend. The victims included family members between the ages of 14 and 39.

According to the sheriff's office, Tutterrow is an independent ride contractor for a company that only had one ride at the fair: the Vortex.

More arrests in the incident are possible, said Harrison, who added that the investigation is ongoing, CNN's Alina Machado reports.

Brian Long, a spokesman for the state Deaprtment of Agriculture, said owners inspect the rides three times a day. State officials inspect them before the fair's opening and then conduct random spot checks while the fair is under way, he said.

The 10-day fair ends Sunday.

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