Man who drowned in pig feed tanker trying to save teen ‘was a superhero’

A man who drowned while trying to rescue his teenage colleague from a pig feed tanker has been called a “superhero” by his family.

Gavin Rawson died alongside Nathan Walker at their workplace in 2016, when both men were overcome by toxic fumes and drowned in the vat at the site in Normanton, Leicestershire.

Their employer, a food waste recycling company, was found guilty of corporate manslaughter earlier this month.

The trial heard how Mr Rawson rushed to help his teenage colleague who had got into difficulty while cleaning the tanker of semi-liquid pig feed.

Jurors heard how the 35-year-old climbed into the vat in an attempt to rescue Mr Walker.

His parents have told the BBC this was characteristic of their son.

Mr Rawson’s mother, Linda, said he used to wear Superman pyjamas while growing up.

“On that day, he was a superhero. People said Gavin helped them in situations. He always had their back,” she told the BBC.

“He wouldn’t have thought about the gases; he would just have wanted to get [Nathan] out.”

Last week, Greenfeeds Ltd was fined £2m and one of its co-owners, Gillian Leivers, was jailed for 13 years over the deaths after a trial at Leicester Crown Court.

A judge said the 60-year-old of Fosse Road in Newark, Nottinghamshire, had shown a “blatant disregard for a high risk of death” while in charge of staff at the company, which is based in Normanton in Leicestershire.

Her husband, 59-year-old Ian Leivers, also of Fosse Road, was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty of a Health and Safety at Work Act breach as a director of the company.

Describing the circumstances during his sentencing remarks, judge Mr Justice Fraser said: “Gavin was the first to respond, and went to Nathan’s immediate assistance.

“He must have seen Nathan from the top hatch, and with no thought for his own safety, bravely entered the tanker in order to rescue him.

“That courageous decision cost Gavin his life. He suffered the same fate as Nathan almost immediately, becoming overcome by the gas and losing consciousness.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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