OSHA investigating after maintenance worker trapped, killed in machine at Fairfield bowling alley

Former co-worker: 'It's just a freak accident'

FAIRFIELD, Ohio -- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators are working to determine how an experienced maintenance worker was killed Thursday at a Butler County bowling alley.

David Geiger, 53, died Thursday afternoon after getting caught in a machine he was trying to repair. Authorities said he was working on a pinsetter at Northwest Lanes on Happy Valley Drive at about 2 p.m. when his clothing caught on something and the machine pulled him to his death.

Customers were inside the bowling alley at the time, but no one saw the accident take place, Fairfield police said. It wasn’t until other employees paged Geiger several times and didn’t get a response that they went looking for him and found his body.

"He was sent back for a problem with one of the lanes," said Fairfield police spokesperson Doug Day. "He'd been back there, they tried to call him, and when he didn't answer the call they went back there and they found him."

The Butler County Coroner's Office ruled Geiger's death Friday as accidental traumatic asphyxia.

A former co-worker, Nathan Hursell, said Geiger had been working in the bowling alley business for 30 years.

"Dave was a stand-up guy," Hursell said. "He knew exactly what he was doing back there. It's one of those things where you don't think twice of that happening. It's just a common spot that we get in the machines and it's just a freak accident."​

Hursell said Geiger worked carefully and was always professional.

OSHA investigators inspected the bowling alley Friday and said a full investigation could take up to six weeks. They said the bowling alley's owners were cooperating completely and are extremely upset about the incident.

"The machines are about 40 to 50 years old -- they're good machines, but just like any running machine they're dangerous," Hursell said. "They got gears, pulleys, everything's running back there."

Managers of Northwest Lanes shut down operations Thursday night but reopened for business Friday.

OSHA records indicate the last time a person was killed in an accident involving bowling alley equipment was 2006 in Oklahoma. That worker was crushed.

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