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Segway chief falls to his death … on a Segway

Published September 27, 2010 4:49 pm

Transport • Tumble off of a cliff revives safety questions.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

London • A wealthy British businessman who owns the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway was found dead in a river in northern England, apparently after falling off a cliff on one of the vehicles, police said Monday.

The body of 62-year-old Jimi Heselden and a Segway personal transporter were found in the River Wharfe, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, West Yorkshire police said.

A witness had reported seeing a man fall Sunday over a 30-foot drop into the river near the village of Boston Spa, 140 miles north of London. "The incident is not believed to be suspicious," police said, without elaborating.

The lack of information about the circumstances surrounding Heselden's death prompted new questions about the Segway's safety record — concerns that have been raised before.

The company recalled all its U.S. vehicles in 2006 because of a software problem that could have caused its wheels to reverse direction, causing riders to fall off. The vehicle has also not been approved in Britain for road use, despite protests from Segway loyalists.

Segways have been banned by some U.S. cities but have also been embraced by other U.S. police departments as a useful tool in patrols.