A wealthy British businessman who owns the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway has been found dead in a river in northern England after apparently 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 (9-meter) drop into the river near the village of Boston Spa, 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of London.
“The incident is not believed to be suspicious,” police said, indicating that they do not believe anyone else was involved.
Heselden, who bought control of the Bedford, New Hampshire-based Segway company in December, made his fortune through his firm Hesco Bastion Ltd., which developed a successful blast wall system that replaced the sand bags once used to protect troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hesco Bastion confirmed that Heselden “died in a tragic accident near his home in West Yorkshire.”
Police have not revealed further details about the incident. A dozen members of Heselden’s family asked for privacy Monday after placing flowers at the heavily wooded accident site, which is popular with hikers and nature lovers.
The battery-powered Segway, which is stabilized by gyroscopes, was invented by Dean Kamen, who founded the company in 1999. Kamen was traveling Monday and could not be immediately reached for comment.
The unique Segway transporter relies on electricity to recharge its batteries and travels at speeds up to 12.5 mph (20 kph), the company says on its Web site. It is more protective of the environment than other scooters and automobiles, the company says, claiming it is 11 times more efficient than the average American car and also can be used indoors because it has no emissions.