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Segway Company Owner’s Death Highlights Importance of Rider Safety

6 comments

In a horrific accident, British entrepeneur and owner of Segway, Inc., fell to his death from a cliff while riding on one of the famous Segway scooters. According to an investigation into Mr. Jimi Heselden’s death, 62, the millionaire businessman died from multiple injuries consistent with falling while riding a “gyrobike” including multiple blunt force injuries of the chest and spine.

Detectives found Heselden’s “lifeless” body near Jackdaw Crag, near Boston Spa in Wetherby, England on September 26. A paramedic pronounced him dead on the scene and his wife later formally identified his body. In addition, authorities apparently discovered a Segway Scooter near where he fell. He is best known for his companies’ two most prominent inventions: the “blast wall” basket, which is being used as a replacement for traditional sandbags to protect soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Segway, which is a two-wheeled, self-balancing scooter.

This tragedy further complicates the markets tenuous relationship with the Segway. Overall, the Segway has been relegated to a niche market, since it carries a price tag of $6,000. Furthermore, the scooter was the subject of a massive recall in September 2006, when every one of its units were recalled due to a software glitch that could cause the unit to go into reverse and force the rider to fall. Some cities such as New York have banned its use on city streets. However, some tourist sightseeing groups, as well as safety officials in some towns and cities, have embraced the scooter. Thus, Mr. Heselden’s death highlights the important safety precautions that riders should take when using a Segway:

  • Wear brightly colored clothing and helmets.
  • Ride on the sidewalk if your town or city allows it.
  • Start out at “Turtle” mode—the low speed beginner setting.
  • Have an experienced rider teach you how to ride, turn, stop, and spot you while you ride for the first time for at least 10 minutes until you get the hang of it.
  • Don’t “push” your Segway. For example, don’t continue to lean forward if you get a “Speed Limiter Alert” or continue riding when you get a “Stick Shake Warning”.
  • Don’t ride on steep slopes or slippery surfaces.
  • Supervise children (the minimum weight requirement is 100 pounds).

6 Comments

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  1. Rob Owen says:
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    In the interest of accuracy please note that Deam Kamen, the prolific American inventor, invented the Segway and is one of around 400 inventions he is credited with. Jimi Heselden is an ex-miner who later became a multi-millionaire as a result of his “blast wall blanket”. He led a UK buy-out of the Segway parent company in December 2009. He was not the Segway’s inventor, but an enthusiastic user who tragically misjudged space on a narrow path next to a sheer 30′ plus drop.

    The Segway has not been the subject of “several” recalls, but one. Inaccuracy and exageration of this sort detracts from the credibility of your reporting and further fuels biased views from flawed information.

  2. Teddy says:
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    You have incorrect/missing information in your blog.

    Dean Kamen is the inventor of the Segway, and he is alive and well.

    Jimi Heselden was the current owner of Segway Inc.

    And how does a tragic accident qualify this as being a “Dangerous & Defective Product” blog.
    You forgot to include the fact that he was found at the bottom of a cliff. (alleged reports indicate a fall of between 30-50ft)

    Maybe he was on a ‘dangerous & defective’ cliff?

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    Thank you for directing my attention to these facts. I have edited the post so that Mr. Heselden is not credited for inventing Mr. Kamen’s scooter. Additionally, I have provided specific information regarding the Segway recall of September 2006.

  4. Rob Owen says:
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    Your response is laudable, but the article still retains a grossly misleading headline. The inaccuracies you originally posted and others retained within this article show a superficial understanding of a subject that you still feel justified in commenting on from a supposed position of authority and responsibility. You demonstrate a lack of attention to detail that would not give me confidence to use any service you offer.

  5. Terry Perdue says:
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    There were actually two recalls. The first one, early-on, increased headroom and improved battery monitoring after a couple riders ignored warnings in the manual and pushed the limits. The second recall fixed a bug that COULD cause the wheels to reverse, but only under extremely unlikely circumstances.

  6. mark says:
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    Jimi Heselden was a great man, did not invent the segway, but bought the company last January.
    most important he was a great person, cared for his fellow man and gave away millions.
    His life is Worthy of a movie.
    I knew him personally, and will miss him.
    god bless him