Segway company owner killed by, er, riding Segway off a cliff

posted at 6:04 pm on September 27, 2010 by Allahpundit

So pitifully slow is the news today that, believe it or not, this is the top story right now on Memeorandum.

It’s not funny, needless to say. It’s just … darned weird.

Former miner Jimi Heselden, 62, plunged into the River Wharfe while riding around his West Yorkshire estate in Boston Spa on a rugged country version of the Segway.

He bought the firm last December and was using one of the machines – which use gyroscopes to remain upright and are controlled by the direction in which the rider leans – to inspect the grounds of his property.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said today: ‘Police were called at 11.40am yesterday to reports of a man in the River Wharfe, apparently having fallen from the cliffs above.

‘A Segway-style vehicle was recovered. He was pronounced dead at the scene…

Invesitgators are probing whether there was a fault with his particular machine or it was driver error.

He grew up poor, invented a type of blast wall used to protect troops in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, and ended up giving tens of millions of pounds to charity, including military charities. And now, to most of the public, he’ll be remembered as the guy who died in some sort of Wile E. Coyote free fall aboard the world’s dorkiest mode of transportation. Simply terrible, and egregiously unfair. RIP.

I’m tempted to say that this news will do for the Segway industry what the Hindenburg did for the airship industry, but let’s face it. There is no Segway industry.

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You’re f*cking out!

Ian on September 27, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Definitely an interesting way to segue into Heaven (let’s hope).

itsnotaboutme on September 27, 2010 at 6:06 PM

The truth is stranger than fiction.

conservative pilgrim on September 27, 2010 at 6:07 PM

*upon finding the body at the bottom of the cliff*

His trajectory was the same as his company’s stock.

*puts on sunglasses*

Down.

YEEEAAAAHHHHHH!

lorien1973 on September 27, 2010 at 6:07 PM

It’s just … darned weird.

Can’t be any worse than those kids who drive, get into a accident while still holding thier cell phones to their HEADS!

Nooo, nothing wrong with holding on to something for dear life.

upinak on September 27, 2010 at 6:08 PM

He seemed like quite the philanthropist. Tough way to go, no doubt, riding a queer contraption like a Segway and having an “Oh Shiite!” moment at exactly the wrong time.

Bishop on September 27, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Recreation! – Death at nearly 5 mph.

lorien1973 on September 27, 2010 at 6:10 PM

I Believe I Can Fly…
No, Aero-Segway is not going to work…

d1carter on September 27, 2010 at 6:12 PM

that sucks

rob verdi on September 27, 2010 at 6:12 PM

I wonder if the Segway remained upright all the way down?

James on September 27, 2010 at 6:12 PM

He sounded like a good man. Really tragic.

Y-not on September 27, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Wow that is funny./sarc

The guy is dead.

CWforFreedom on September 27, 2010 at 6:14 PM

He looks a hell of a lot older than 62 years. Also, I thought they had just developed a segway for combat terrain.

Blake on September 27, 2010 at 6:15 PM

I got my comeuppance in the headline thread so sure I’ll say RIP, but anyone who doesn’t giggle at however I end up offing myself needs to take a pill.

Limerick on September 27, 2010 at 6:16 PM

It was used as evidence that Bush was a retard when he fell off of one, but even the guy who owned the company couldn’t stay on it.

Scrappy on September 27, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Only 30 feet and into a river??

Anyway, he was very generous to wounded veterans. Sounds like we lost a good man.

Blake on September 27, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Bishop, do they make a non-queer version for the menly men like ourselves?

Ian on September 27, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Did his Segway have the “D” button on it?

If this isn’t the best representation of what the democrats are doing with the economy, I don’t know what is.

portlandon on September 27, 2010 at 6:19 PM

It’s not funny, needless to say.

he’ll be remembered as the guy who died in some sort of Wile E. Coyote free fall aboard the world’s dorkiest mode of transportation.

Sorry but you made me lol with that.

WisCon on September 27, 2010 at 6:19 PM

I’m skeptical that he simply rode over a cliff by accident. It would be quite easy to jump before taking the plunge.

flyfisher on September 27, 2010 at 6:20 PM

It is sad, no doubt, but if you’re looking for irony, remember that in addition to owning the Segway company, he also owned the world’s leading manuffacturer of traffic barriers.

greggriffith on September 27, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Dude, this is the HESCO guy that developed the HESCO containers. Those thingies have saved my bacon several times.

http://www.hescobarriers.com/categories.asp?CatID=17

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:22 PM

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:22 PM

You are a bad driver.

upinak on September 27, 2010 at 6:23 PM

it’s too bad it didn’t happen to some 40- swilling jackass that’s hopped up on dope and was driving a Chevy Volt.

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:24 PM

I’m skeptical that he simply rode over a cliff by accident. It would be quite easy to jump before taking the plunge.

flyfisher on September 27, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Good point. He may have had a stroke or a heart attack which caused him to go over the cliff and which is the true cause of his death.

Blake on September 27, 2010 at 6:24 PM

You are a bad driver.

upinak on September 27, 2010 at 6:23 PM

the mortars….the mortars and the rockets….. *sigh*

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:24 PM

I find it hard to believe a 62 yo man is out tooling around in a Segway all by himself. It’s also hard to believe you couldn’t jump off a vehicle that can only go 12 mph.

faraway on September 27, 2010 at 6:25 PM

HESCO barriers saved my life. Rest in peace good man!

Egfrow on September 27, 2010 at 6:25 PM

If you are going to ride two wheels, make sure it’s got a seat, handle bars, and a big honking engine on it. American made preferred.

Hog Wild on September 27, 2010 at 6:25 PM

HESCO barriers saved my life. Rest in peace good man!

Egfrow on September 27, 2010 at 6:25 PM

roger that!

ya see upinak…they are blast protectors, not guardrails…

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:26 PM

…Segway off a cliff…

…and speaking of cliff, his notes are great!

karl9000 on September 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I wonder if he had a hot chick on the back of it like some dudes do on their hogs…?

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM

He grew up poor, invented a type of blast wall used to protect troops in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, and ended up giving tens of millions of pounds to charity, including military charities.

Good man. RIP.

Question: How fast do these things go that he couldn’t get out of the way before it went over?

amerpundit on September 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM

…and speaking of cliff, his notes are great!

karl9000 on September 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM

did cliff like segways too?

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:28 PM

If it had an “R” he may still be alive…
Sad, terrible for the loss to the family…but, it really is something that could be in a comedy.
The guy overcomes so many obstacles in life…then gets bucked off a mechanical toy to his death.
Time to take the Segway’s off the market until they get complete government clearance.
Bush allowed this to got to market without proper government oversight…it is Bush’s fault…

right2bright on September 27, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Question: How fast do these things go that he couldn’t get out of the way before it went over?

amerpundit on September 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I dunno, but did you see Mall Cop?

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:28 PM

he’ll be remembered as the guy who died in some sort of Wile E. Coyote free fall aboard the world’s dorkiest mode of transportation. Simply terrible, and egregiously unfair.

Thank you for the Wile E. Coyote reference. I was searching for the right words to describe this, and you pretty much nailed it.

joejm65 on September 27, 2010 at 6:28 PM

the mortars….the mortars and the rockets….. *sigh*

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:24 PM

testy! I was joking!

upinak on September 27, 2010 at 6:31 PM

I dunno, but did you see Mall Cop?

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Yep. Funny movie.

I’m reading about the Segway. Apparently the top model goes about 12mph, and it has a governor that slows the Segway down if it starts to go too fast.

amerpundit on September 27, 2010 at 6:31 PM

dude, I knew a guy that owned a contracting company–they built houses/neighborhoods and such. Well, one day, he was out talking to one of his guys that was running a grater or some other big 4 wheeled earth moving thing and he stepped off the side while it was rolling and got crushed. Sad sad state of affairs.

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:32 PM

They’re claiming it was some kind of accident?

How do you have an accident at three miles an hour?

Squiggy on September 27, 2010 at 6:32 PM

Bishop, do they make a non-queer version for the menly men like ourselves?

Ian on September 27, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Manly men don’t ask Bishop questions

AsianGirlInTights on September 27, 2010 at 6:32 PM

Sad, but stranger things have happened in this world.

In regards to the sarcastic ending concerning the Segway industry. I remember when the Segway’s creator had a bunch of mover and shakers in to view his invention before it was introduced to the masses and Jeff Bezos, of Amazon.com fame said it was going to change the way the world traveled after witnessing a demonstration. My first thought as to what he saw was a hover craft for the masses. It doesn’t surprise me it never caught on. But, I am off topic. It is sad this man met his demise on that contraption and I am sad for his family and friends at their loss.

devolvingtowardsidiocracy on September 27, 2010 at 6:32 PM

It’s also hard to believe you couldn’t jump off a vehicle that can only go 12 mph.

I had to drop my motorcycle in a curve doing about 10 – 12 MPH. It was that, or hit the car coming the other way in my lane.

You would be surprised to know how hard/far you can bounce, roll and flip going 10 mph. On the last one, I was almost “standing” on my head before I hit the ground one last time. Thankfully, I was wearing a helmet and thick leathers.

All of which, including the boots, had to be replaced from severe damage. The bike took about $5000 to fix. I had a bum knee, some scrapes, and painful shoulders from hitting the fairing connections, but that’s it. Without the helmet, it would have been pretty bad.

Doesn’t sound fast at all…

karl9000 on September 27, 2010 at 6:34 PM

I’m reading about the Segway. Apparently the top model goes about 12mph, and it has a governor that slows the Segway down if it starts to go too fast.

amerpundit on September 27, 2010 at 6:31 PM

there’s got to be a Myth Busters episode about this…I wonder if there were any other segways in the area that could’ve side swiped him or something so mama can collect all the insurance money. Or, some evil and slighted engineer fiddle-sticked with his gyroscopes and put him over the edge in an uncontrolled bit of segway getaway….

jus thoughts..

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Are there any segway engineers that have also…..ever built a ….humpbot????….kinda seems like similar technology dontcha think….at least the kinds of betas that enjoy that type of techie stuff are kinda eerily drawn…to.this.story

AP?
WTF?

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:36 PM

did cliff like segways too?

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Nyah, but he did get off on segues better than Heseldon.

karl9000 on September 27, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Hesco Bastion pioneered ‘blast walls’ – steel-mesh baskets – which replaced sandbags as protection for soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan and Iraq

‘Jimi is perhaps best known for his charity work with Help for Heroes and the Leeds Community Foundation.

His company also sponsored a recent armed forces charity concert at Twickenham

Of his military donations he said; added: ‘We often get thank-you letters from troops, saying how one of our walls saved their lives when a bomb went off and this is our way of showing them how much we appreciate what they do.

Rest in peace Sir

Dollayo on September 27, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Maybe someone cut the brake lines

faraway on September 27, 2010 at 6:39 PM

If you are going to ride two wheels, make sure it’s got a seat, handle bars, and a big honking engine on it. American made preferred.

And brakes.

Emperor Norton on September 27, 2010 at 6:39 PM

maybe his employees drink fordies and smoke weed in the parking lot and put his gyroscopes in backwards…..

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:40 PM

‘m sorry but I couldn’t stop laughing when I read this…

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/segway-owner-dies-in-segway-crash/

Even better, read comment number 2…

patch on September 27, 2010 at 6:42 PM

did the airbag deploy?

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:44 PM

I keep thinking of the Hoveround commerical…???

SouthernGent on September 27, 2010 at 6:44 PM

did he yell “I’m falling and I won’t be able to get up?”

ok, i’ll quit.

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:45 PM

So will the family be suing the company for an obviously defective product?

GarandFan on September 27, 2010 at 6:46 PM

Those HESCO barriers have saved lots of troops and civilians. Thanks Jimi!!

lexhamfox on September 27, 2010 at 6:49 PM

Lawsuit coming! Needs better brakes! Wait… who to sue?

slickwillie2001 on September 27, 2010 at 6:54 PM

No air bags on that thing?

Before I hit submit on this, I deviated from normal practice to browse earlier comments. Alas, my evil twin once again:

ted c on September 27, 2010 at 6:44 PM

:)

petefrt on September 27, 2010 at 6:56 PM

He bought the firm last December

But he bought the farm today, apparently…

bluelightbrigade on September 27, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Give soros one

Sonosam on September 27, 2010 at 6:57 PM

“Segway, when skydiving bores you to death”

Electrongod on September 27, 2010 at 6:59 PM

The average abrupt-stopping distance of the experiments from 12.5 mph was 18.6 feet.

faraway on September 27, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Yeah, but he was riding one of the “adventure” models. It had 0-60 acceleration of 5 seconds and top speed of 110+.

petefrt on September 27, 2010 at 6:59 PM

The bad thing about Segways is that (besides the obvious), when you hit a slick spot, the wheels spin and the gyros will actually throw you off the thing. That may be what happened.

AubieJon on September 27, 2010 at 7:02 PM

For those with eyes to see, this is the very beginnings of the Great Machine Rebellion…

Be wary, very wary, of all your machines.

icenyne on September 27, 2010 at 7:03 PM

Love my SUV

Wade on September 27, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Time to take the Segway’s off the market until they get complete government clearance.

Bush allowed this to got to market without proper government oversight…it is Bush’s fault…

right2bright on September 27, 2010 at 6:28 PM

In England, the Segway can only be operated on private property. That’s their version of “government clearance”.

BTW, Segway ain’t dead yet, as I noted on the other thread. They are partnering with Government Motors to make a 2 seat electric vehicle.

Del Dolemonte on September 27, 2010 at 7:07 PM

Suicide at 5 mph

John the Libertarian on September 27, 2010 at 7:07 PM

Rode a Segway at Disneyworld a few years ago; they have a Segway tour of Disneyworld before the park opens so there aren’t any crowds.

It was fun – the terrain was flat and well tended, and it wasn’t crowded. I could see that it could be put to use in certain circumstances.

However one thing that was annoying is that your feet would hurt. If you stand for long periods you’re used to being able to shift your weight and adjust your balance but this affects the way the Segway moves. Perhaps people get used to this after using it for a while, but I think this would still be somewhat of a problem.

Perhaps Jimi had a heart attack while on the Segway, or somehow lost his balance and was knocked unconscious? Regardless of how it happened, sounds like he was a generous and hard working man, and his death is a real tragedy, even if the circumstances sounds a bit unusual.

linlithgow on September 27, 2010 at 7:08 PM

“See, I told you so!”

/joan claybrook

roy_batty on September 27, 2010 at 7:09 PM

Maybe he was being a test pilot for a new product.

OxyCon on September 27, 2010 at 7:10 PM

GOB Bluth hardest hit.

It's Vintage, Duh on September 27, 2010 at 7:10 PM

The Big Sleep Segue.

profitsbeard on September 27, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Taiwanese animation in 5, 4, 3…

agmartin on September 27, 2010 at 7:27 PM

This may just be the first…and perhaps only…Segway-related death…ever.

JetBoy on September 27, 2010 at 7:31 PM

So he rode his segway while he was making his segue into the here after?

ColdWarrior57 on September 27, 2010 at 7:34 PM

Ugh. I don’t think these comments are funny anymore. He was a decent man. He probably had a stroke or heart attack which caused him to go over the cliff. When one of you guys drop dead, will it be okay to make jokes? If not, why is okay to ridicule this man’s death? He certainly has contributed more to humanity than anyone I know of here.

Blake on September 27, 2010 at 7:43 PM

I always hated those evil spawns of Satan. I’ve seen drunken idiots on those things at some of my favorite vacation spots, doing stupid things with these sidewalk invaders. It’s sad to hear about this guy going off the cliff, but maybe it will put a nail in the coffin of these contraptions from hell.

simkeith on September 27, 2010 at 7:49 PM

“In West Yorkshire, police reported that James W. Heselden, 62, who took over control of the company earlier this year, accidentally steered the Segway off a 30-foot cliff and into a river while riding on his estate, about 140 miles from London. The exact cause of death is not yet established, the police said.”

Report back when you figure it out, constable.

justltl on September 27, 2010 at 7:52 PM

This, Alanis Morrissette, is how you do irony.

RIP to a great inventor.

di butler on September 27, 2010 at 8:03 PM

This post is classless. If its not funny, what was the purpose of the post to begin with?

I don’t expect much out of Allahpundit, but I expect more than this.

Labamigo on September 27, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Slow painful death.

Philly on September 27, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Ugh. I don’t think these comments are funny anymore. He was a decent man. He probably had a stroke or heart attack which caused him to go over the cliff. …

Blake on September 27, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Point well taken. I started to preface my comment with something along this line.

But still when we take life too seriously, all is lost. When I die, I hope my buddies will find humor in the fun and irony of my life. This appears to have been a good man.

petefrt on September 27, 2010 at 8:37 PM

Over the summer my wife and I were on vacation, and decided to go on a Segway tour of a well-known tourism destination (not going to give the name here).
The company suited us up with helmets, etc., and let us spend about 45 minutes in the parking lot practicing operating our Segways so that we would all feel comfortable.
When it came time for us to embrak on our tour, we were leaving the parking lot, and I heard our guide say, “Uh-oh.” I turned around and there was my wife on the ground. She was bleeding from the bridge of her nose, probably from her glasses, but she had no scrapes or cuts anywhere on her body.
We still don’t know what happened, but she might have hit a curb or something — they are very sensitive. But to give you an idea, she must have landed right on her head, and thank God she was wearing a helmet — because there were no marks on her.
We had her rushed off to the local hospital for a CAT scan, and spent several hours there. For several days she didn’t feel quite right.
She did develop a bruise on her rear end, but that’s about it.
So . . . . those things are fun . . . but dangerous if you’re not careful!

ToddonCapeCod on September 27, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Too bad about Heselden.

But the Segway always had the same problem as “Warning light” indicators: they are NOT “FAIL-SAFE”!!! The logic is all wrong: no power, no warning, no protection. Devices with this flaw should never be trusted with critical things…like human life.

landlines on September 27, 2010 at 8:47 PM

…Simply terrible, and egregiously unfair. RIP.

It is unfortunate that this man, who’s pulled himself up and has apparently done some commendable things is dead when, oh, Barney Frank is still among us…being Barney Frank. He and most of Congress still clock in above room temperature, and many incumbents will be reelected (GOP landslide or no), while an apparently worthwhile person dies…any worthwhile person, for that matter. On that point, I’ll admit to “unfair”…even though life is not and is not meant to be fair.

I read someplace that the cliff itself was only 30 feet. I haven’t seen how fast he was going (12mph max), what he landed on, what position he landed in, or what his condition of health was. Most people reporting this have been (openly or to themselves) enjoying the irony of it all…the irony of it all….

…but (the magic word which renders all you’ve just said invisible)….

…the irony of the thing is incredible.

It would be like Bill Gates dying of the “blue screen of death”…or Nancy Pelosi dying of botox poisoning…or Barak Obama being impaled on a teleprompter stand…or Barb Boxer’s life being in the hands of a Corps of Engineers officer…or Lindsey Lohan being run over by a van delivering copies of the “National Enquirer”….

…not in the same league as the aforementioned, the man nonetheless died ironically…poor chap.

Puritan1648 on September 27, 2010 at 8:50 PM

I’m skeptical that he simply rode over a cliff by accident. It would be quite easy to jump before taking the plunge.

flyfisher on September 27, 2010 at 6:20 PM

I’m not skeptical. I think he was so use to of his device that he forgot how to use his own legs. I think his death is a message for all people relying on technology and government to do things for them that they’ve forgotten how to live free.

TwilightStruggler on September 27, 2010 at 8:55 PM

At least he got to die weird. I hope if I don’t get to go to sleep and never wake up, I get to die weird. Funny would be even better.

deewhybee on September 27, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Never understood the segway. Besides being egregiously showy, it takes you there less quickly, less safely, less healthily and you get there with less money.

The only people I’ve ever seen using one were the ones who didn’t really have to get there.

Perhaps the Japanese should by them and use them on daredevil tv shows. That I might watch. Nah.

flicker on September 27, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Ugh. I don’t think these comments are funny anymore. He was a decent man. He probably had a stroke or heart attack which caused him to go over the cliff. When one of you guys drop dead, will it be okay to make jokes? If not, why is okay to ridicule this man’s death? He certainly has contributed more to humanity than anyone I know of here.

Blake on September 27, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Don’t think anybody will notice me gone…pfffttt.

ProudPalinFan on September 27, 2010 at 9:48 PM

Strange and sad ending for someone who appears to have been a very decent guy.

May God bless and protect his soul, and give comfort to his family and friends.

AZCoyote on September 27, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Darwin Award nominee…

Khun Joe on September 27, 2010 at 10:40 PM

I feel bad for his family and for the company. Personally, I don’t “get” the Segway, except as a platform for technology that will be adaptable to other, actually useful applications in the future. So I hope they survive this blow to their image even though for myself, if I won a Segway, I would probably sell it on EBay.

People accidentally walk off cliffs every year, I believe. Under certain circumstances and types of terrain, cliffs can be hard to see from above. When people are hiking or driving, they they get distracted by their thoughts or their weariness and can forget about the danger that lies ahead.

About 12 years ago a coworker of mine who was a very experienced hiker dies just that way. I’d done a lot of hiking myself and he stopped by my cube one day and was looking at a picture that I had taken of a remote lake and asked me where it was. He was a nice guy but liked to play the flute while he was hiking, which would be irritating to me as a hiker, I didn’t tell him. He went home, looked at his maps and from his memory of the picture, (as far as I know), deduced the name of the lake. Yet he accidentally walked off a cliff under inclement conditions about two years later.

FloatingRock on September 27, 2010 at 11:02 PM

A very sad story. RIP.

Missy on September 27, 2010 at 11:25 PM

Mr Heselden rose from humble roots to become a successful businessman and one of the country’s most generous philanthropists.

Only last week he donated £10million to the Leeds Community Foundation he set up; in total he has donated £23million to the fund.

Much of the money has gone towards helping disadvantaged youngsters, vulnerable elderly people and health improvement projects in his home city.

This year he said: ‘I honestly believe people have a moral obligation to use their wealth to help others.’

Mr Heselden left school at 15 to become a miner but lost his job in the cuts that followed the bitter 1984 strike.

He used redundancy money to found his company, HESCO Bastion.

He was quite a great guy. RIP.

Lourdes on September 28, 2010 at 6:36 AM

in some sort of Wile E. Coyote free fall aboard the world’s dorkiest mode of transportation.

BEEP, BEEP! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

flytier on September 28, 2010 at 8:26 AM