Bowling Center Mechanic’s Strangulation Death a Preventable Workplace Tragedy

A 29-year-old man working at a Brownsville bowling alley died when his shirt collar tangled in a faulty pinsetter, strangling him as the machine twisted the collar tighter.


Hired part-time as a mechanic, Vidal Garcia had worked at Galaxy Bowling Center for four months before the accident on March 5, 2015.

He was doing maintenance on an automatic bowling pinsetter, a machine that picks up and clears fallen pins and sets them for the next bowler.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection found that the machine’s unguarded, rotating shafts and improper shutdown of a control panel at Galaxy led to Garcia’s death.

OSHA cited the company for 10 serious safety violations on Sept. 2.

“Vidal Garcia died in a preventable workplace tragedy,” said Michele Shield, OSHA’s acting area director in Corpus Christi. “Galaxy Bowling knew the pinsetter had problems, yet employers allowed him to crawl into the machine while it was on to fix it.”

Garcia was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a student at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

OSHA inspectors also found that the company lacked a program to prevent unintentional operation of machinery during service and maintenance, a process known as lockout/tagout. The agency also noted that the pin rotating shaft and the ball-return mechanisms lacked guards to prevent workers from coming near and catching on operating parts.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $50,400 for the citations.

Galaxy Bowling employs 40 workers.

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