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Segway boss dies in scooter fall

The flamboyant former miner at the head of the Segway scooter company has died in a freak accident by sliding on one of the miniature two-wheelers off a cliff.

world Updated: Sep 28, 2010 00:06 IST

The flamboyant former miner at the head of the Segway scooter company has died in a freak accident by sliding on one of the miniature two-wheelers off a cliff.

Jimi Heselden, who latched on to an international craze for the motorised “green commuter machines”, was testing a cross-country version when he skidded into the river Wharfe.

Police confirmed that the 62-year-old’s body had been found in the river at Boston Spa, five miles from the Leeds factory where he made his first fortune from Afghanistan defence contracts. Using redundancy money from his pit job, he invented a wire basket crammed with earth and water that proved far more effective than sandbags against mortar and missile attacks.

Heselden lost his mining job in the pit closures after the 1984-85 miners’ strike, but put his knowledge of geology and soil science to good use. Updating the medieval defence system of gabions he patented the Bastion, which proved an immediate bestseller for his Hesco firm.

Heselden bought the Segway company in January this year, after commissioning a financial analysis of its success in US, where it was invented. The scooter has been marketed as a “green commute” but buyers are warned to take a string of safety precautions.