Employee saves toddler from bowling alley pinsetter

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A quick-thinking bowling alley employee saved a toddler from a dangerous situation.

Last weekend, Wagner's Lanes employee Andy Gardner saw the boy wander down a lane, and trigger a machine that sweeps the pins away. A mechanized bar pulled the child and the pins into the pit, where a conveyor belt was running. Gardner scrambled down the lane, and turned off the machine on the masking unit, which is above the lane. The boy was brought back to his parents, who thanked Gardner and apologized.

Wagner's manager Dave Burg says the boy may have ended up with a couple scrapes. He's not aware of something like this happening at Wagner's before. "That's the furthest I've ever seen a kid get down the lane," he said. Burg says the machine was on "first ball," meaning the part of the pinsetter that lifts and sets the pins would not have gone all the way down to the surface of the lane. He says this all happened on lane 14, which is in front of the bowling desk. Another employee was trying to turn off the machine from the desk as it was happening.

Burg says the bowling alley has "signs everywhere" to warn people of potential dangers, and that multiple people are always working at the bowling desk and watching the lanes. Gardner has been working at Wagner's for about six months.