Transportation

Segway Owner James Heselden Dead in Fall Off Segway

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

The British owner of the company that makes the Segway is dead after falling off of a cliff while riding one of his iconic two-wheel vehicles. The body of 62-year-old James Heselden was found in a river along with his Segway.

Heselden was apparently using an off-rode version of the Segway to inspect the grounds of his estate in northern England. A witness reported seeing a man fall Sunday off of the 30-foot high cliff and into the river.

"The incident is not believed to be suspicious," police said.

Heselden bought control of the New Hampshire-based Segway company last December. He made his fortune through his firm that developed a system to replace the sand bags used to protect troops from explosions.

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The Segway was introduced amid much fanfare in 2002. It is stabilized with gyroscopes that are supposed to make it impossible to fall over. However, then-President Bush famously fell while he was testing one when they first came out.

Details of Heselden's death are still scarce, which is causing people to question the safety of the Segway. But at least one company insists they are safe.

Mobile Entertainment, which has offered Segway tours along the Mississippi River for the past seven years, has had more than 40,000 customers ride the device without any serious injuries,

"Nobody's gone off a river, nobody," owner Bill Neuenschwander told the Associated Press. "I can tell you firsthand: I can't believe how safe this product is."

He said the Segway was also easy to use off the road, on gravel, grass, hills or other steep inclines. "People get it right away," he said. "This product is perfectly safe when people respect its limitations."