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23-Year-Old Dies in Odd Molasses Drowning

After he fixed a problem with a valve, he started to climb out of the tank when he froze.

A 23-year-old man died last week when he drowned in a tub of molasses. Robert Herweyer was working for Agri-Science Technology Company, a small supply company in Western Michigan.

According to a co-worker, the pair was cleaning out a 12-foot-tall tank that held molasses. When the molasses level became too low to pump out of the container, Herweyer put on a pair of waders and a mask and used straps attached to a forklift to climb into the plastic tank, and adjust the valve to continue pumping.

After he fixed the problem with the valve, he started to climb out of the tank when he froze - some reports say that he was overcome by fumes. His co-worker said Herweyer was non-responsive and tried to pull him out of the tank before he ran to grab Agri-Science owner David Alexander.

According to reports, Alexander used an electric saw to cut Herweyer out of the tank, but this was after he was submerged for nearly five minutes. Coworkers began CPR, but to no avail.

According to the hospital, Herweyer officially died from drowning. OSHA has opened an investigation into the industrial accident, but it could be weeks or even months before the agency issues a report.

Herweyer, who was married last November, died a week before his wife, Joy, was expected to have the couple’s first child.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family with coming expenses.

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