Segway chief dies in scooter accident

segway chief dies in scooter accident jimi heselden

Jimi Heselden, founder of Hesco Bastion (which acquired Segway Inc less than a year ago), has died in an accident at his home in West Yorkshire, England—and it apparently involved going over a cliff on one of the self-balancing two-wheeled Segway scooters. The Segway wound up in the River Wharfe, while Heselden was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 62.

Heselden’s death is apparently being considered an accident by investigators. Segways are restricted to use on private property in the UK, and aren’t permitted on public roads.

Heselden grew up in the Leeds area, left school at 15, and worked as a miner before launching his own engineering business in the 1980s. Reports have him among Britain’s richest individuals, and he was respected for contributions to charities. A statement on the Segway Web site read in part: “Jimi is perhaps best known for his charity work with Help for Heroes and the Leeds Community Foundation. A £10m gift to the Foundation earlier this month saw his lifetime charitable donations top £23m.”

Mesco Bastion produces military equipment, safety barriers, and flood protection gear; the company acquired Segway Inc. in December 2009.

Segway scooters were invented by Dean Kamen and introduced in 2001. They were initially heralded by many (Steve Jobs among them) as a looming revolution for urban transportation. However, the scooters have never taken off in mainstream use, although Segway rentals are popular in some tourist spots and several municipalities and private have partially adopted Segways for specific uses, such as meter readers, public safety, and some police uses. Another niche market for the Segway has been wealthy technology fans: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is well known for turning up at public events on a Segway.

[Image credit: Andy Paraskos/Hesco]