Segway com­pany owner dies in fall

A Bri­tish busi­ness­man who bought the firm is found dead off a cliff, ap­par­ently af­ter los­ing con­trol of the scooter.

Los Angeles Times - - The World - Janet Sto­bart re­port­ing from LONDON Sto­bart is a staff writer in The Times’ London Bureau.

A Bri­tish busi­ness­man who last year bought the com­pany that makes the Segway scooter fell to his death off a cliff in north­ern Eng­land, ap­par­ently while rid­ing one of the ve­hi­cles on his es­tate.

West York­shire po­lice said in a state­ment that the body of Jimi He­selden, 62, had been pulled Mon­day from the River Wharfe near the town of Bos­ton Spa af­ter a call from a passerby.

Lo­cal me­dia re­ports said he was be­lieved to have lost con­trol of his scooter Sun­day on a wooded path that runs close to a 30-foot drop to the river.

He­selden bought the New Hamp­shire-based Segway com­pany in De­cem­ber. The for­mer coal miner made his for­tune af­ter los­ing his job in the wide­spread mine clo­sures of the mid-1980s. Us­ing his ex­per­tise in coal-min­ing blast meth­ods, he formed a com­pany, Hesco Bas­tion, which man­u­fac­tures pro­tec­tive bar­ri­ers.

The bar­ri­ers, known as “sand bas­kets,” con­sist of wire frames with lin­ers that are filled with dirt, sand or rocks. They are con­sid­ered bet­ter than sand­bags in pro­tect­ing against ex­plo­sions and have been widely adopted by mil­i­taries all over the world, in­clud­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary, since the 1991 Per­sian Gulf War. He­selden, said to be worth $265 mil­lion, be­came well known in York­shire as a phi­lan­thropist who do­nated to lo­cal char­i­ties and more re­cently to a fund to help in­jured sol­diers. His com­pany’s web­site said he gave $15.85 mil­lion this month to a lo­cal foun­da­tion that works in dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas. Trib­utes from lo­cal and na­tional fig­ures praised him as a gen­er­ous lo­cal hero who never for­got his roots.

Bri­tish law re­stricts the use of Segway scoot­ers to pri­vate land. The de­vice, in­vented by Dean Ka­men, can travel at a top speed of about 12 mph. In July, a rider was pros­e­cuted for rid­ing one on a side­walk.

How­ever, the Daily Tele­graph re­ported that Segway sales, which had reached only half the tar­get of 40,000 ve­hi­cles last year, had shown a 12% in­crease for the first six months of this year.

JIMI HE­SELDEN

The Bri­tish mil­lion­aire, a for­mer coal miner, bought Segway last year.

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