Segway company owner dies after fall using own product

UK: Police find 62-year-old Jimi Heselden dead in river after he falls off a cliff riding scooter; police don't believe death suspicious.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
September 27, 2010 15:06
2 minute read.
Segway riders in Jerusalem.

311_Segways in J'lem. (photo credit: Courtesy of segwayjerusalem.co.il)

The multi-millionaire owner of the Segway company died in a freak accident on Sunday after apparently riding one of his company’s motorized scooters off a cliff and into a river.

Jimi Heselden, 62, was found in the River Wharfe after riding the vehicle around his estate in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, on Sunday.

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The Segway is a motorized, two-wheeled, self-balancing scooter that uses gyroscopes to remain upright. It is controlled by the direction in which the rider leans.

The philanthropist, who donated £23 million of his wealth to charity, was one of the UK’s richest, with a fortune put at £166m. Earlier this month, he donated £10m. to the Leeds Community Foundation.

A former miner, born in one of the most deprived suburbs of Leeds, Heselden made his millions from defense contracts with Leeds-based company Hesco Bastion.

He created a unique portable wire cage water containment system that, when filled with earth and sand, provided a major defense against bullets, missiles and suicide attacks. It became standard military equipment for NATO, as well as for American and British forces.

Following Heselden’s death, the company in charge of importing Segways to Israel reassured riders about the safety of the scooters.

Ron Kehati of UMT – formerly Segway Israel – said Sunday that “we know the Segway very well, and it’s not an instrument that [has] technical malfunctions. If there is a problem, it must be because of human error or something that is in the way of the rider.”

Kehati added that he had spoken on Sunday to people from Segway Europe, who told him that the place where Heselden had plunged to his death on a Segway was “a dangerous place where you could fall even just on foot or riding a bicycle.”

According to Kehati, there are around 400 Segway owners in Israel, and even with the reckless way Israelis commonly operate motorized vehicles, no Segway fatalities have been reported in the country.

He added that the Segway had achieved about the same level of success in Israel as elsewhere, but that the high price – around NIS 30,000 – deterred many buyers.

While the Segway has yet to conquer the streets of Israel, many local cities – Tel Aviv in particular – have been flooded in the past two years with motorized two-wheel scooters, which don’t require a license and can zip around traffic with ease, sparing the rider the pain of finding a parking spot.


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