Florence bowling alley owner killed by pin setting machine

Local

A Florence bowling alley owner died after getting caught in a pin setting machine Sunday afternoon, according to police. 

Police said around 1:20 p.m., they got a call about a man stuck in a machine at Fremont Lanes on Main Street. When officers arrived, they found the man pinned inside of a pin setting machine. He was unconscious and not breathing. First responders pronounced him dead on the scene.

The victim was identified as the bowling alley’s owner, 65-year-old Ector Rodriguez of Penrose. 

Police said the death is being treated as an accident. No foul play is suspected. 

Fremont Lanes is a long time staple in Florence.  

“He was a manager as well as mechanic,” former owner Larry Baker said.  

Baker said Rodriguez worked for him when he owned it, then eventually ran the place himself.    

Rodriguez worked with the old pin setter and knew the equipment well.  

“I could just think of the many things that could go wrong,” Baker said. “It wasn’t new equipment. There was some age.”

“Accidents do happen,” he said.

On Sunday afternoon, an accident did happen. 

“He went back to service the machine,” Police Chief Mike DeLaurentis said. “The employee said she hasn’t seen him in about 15-20 minutes. She went back to check on him and that’s when she found him trapped in the machine and called 911.”

The community lost a friendly face and a generous heart. 

“He had a bench outside the bowling alley. People stop and talk to him,” DeLaurentis said. “Kids would come down from the high school on Monday morning and if they didn’t have money for pop, he would just give them the pop.”  

“It hurts,” Baker said. “This is not a good day.” 

In a town where everyone knows your name, Ector Rodriguez will be missed. 

“It’s a loss to the community,” Baker said.  

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