Segway Owner Rides Segway off Cliff, Dies

In a bizarre freak accident, James Heselden
, the miner-turned-entrepreneur who bought the Segway company late last year, rode a Segway off a cliff to his death. From the Telegraph:

Jimi Heselden, 62, plunged into the River Wharfe at a beauty spot close to his home on an estate in Boston Spa, near Wetherby, West Yorkshire. It is thought he lost control of one of the all-terrain versions of the machine as he travelled along a rutted bridleway close to his estate near Boston Spa, West Yorks, on Sunday morning. The narrow pathway is littered with tree roots and is rutted and uneven for most of its length, used mainly by walkers and ramblers.

After dropping from the bridleway, he is understood to have fallen 80ft over the overgrown cliff and his body was discovered in the river after a passer-by called the emergency services. Police said his body was recovered from the river but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Heselden, a former miner who made a fortune developing a blast wall to protect troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, bought the Segway company in December last year….Mr Heselden, began his working life as a miner at the Temple Newsam and Lofthouse pits in the Yorkshire coalfields, but lost his job in the wave of redundancies that followed the miner’s strike of 1984.

Using his redundancy money he set up his own business, HESCO Bastion, manufacturing portable wire cages that can be filled with earth and sand. They were initially used to shore up canal banks, but the business really took off when it received orders from the military which used the cages as replacement sandbags to stop bullets, missiles and suicide bombers in combat zones. In the late 1990s the Pentagon alone bought more than £53 million worth of the flat pack walls for use in Iraq and later in Afghanistan.

Heselden was worth about £166 million, according to the Telegraph, making him one of the 400 richest people in the UK. He donated about £20 million to charity, much of it associated with his hometown of Leeds, where he was a popular community leader.

Irony-wise, Heselden’s accident was akin to Bernie Madoff suffocating in blank checks, or Donald Trump being electrocuted by a slot machine. But that doesn’t mitigate the tragedy and loss–condolences to anyone who knew him.

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Written by Drea Knufken

Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.