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Owner of Segway Machines Dies on a Segway

Jimi Heselden, the British multi-millionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Segway company has died age 62.

British police say they believe Mr. Heselden died while testing an all-terrain equipped Segway and lost control and drove the machine off a cliff near his estate in Leeds.

Worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars, Mr. Heselden was a miner who made his fortune inventing the Hesco "Bastion" barrier---a tall wire cage cube that is filled with rocks and dirt for a make-shift defensive wall.

The Hesco Bastion's are employed at NATO military outposts all around Afghanistan and the Pentagon has spent more than $50 million dollars on the simple yet effective defensive devices.

The Segway company, which Mr. Heselden purchased in January, has been a vehicular phenomenon.

The two wheeled transporters use a sensitive gyroscope as an accelerator and steering mechanism. They have become the new go-to-mode of travel for tourists, commuters, chimpanzees, golfers, polo players, and amputees.

Have you ever ridden a Segway? Was it difficult to control? Leave your thoughts below.

By T. Rees Shapiro  | September 27, 2010; 9:22 AM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Afghanistan, Hesco, Jimi Heselden, Segway  
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I tried it once a few years back when contemplating buying one. It was pretty easy, but I'd suggest everyone take 15 minutes or so learning the basics before heading out for any distance. Going up or down ramps or inclines can take some getting used to. I never did buy one as I decided that I needed the excercise.

Posted by: DrFish | September 27, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

It turned out to be the segway to the afterlife.

Posted by: nuke41 | September 27, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I am confused: is this supposed to be a respectful death notice for Mr Heselden, or is it a not very thinly disguised market research form for Segue?

Posted by: Blackwater | September 27, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Uh, if it is, it's a terrible advertisement!

Posted by: horace1 | September 27, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Wow. So this British defense contractor was attempting to militarize the Segway, which was invented as an 'everyman' vehicle for tourists, mall guards, and the like, and has met this horrible fate as a result. This certainly sounds like he was looking to use it as an individual troop transport device and to shut down other uses. I wish we could turn back time and keep it as a useful civilian device owned by a normal consumer company, and then this guy would still be alive, too.

There is nothing inherently wrong with military uses of other equipment, but it is depressing to think that the open market at this point in history is pushing consumer innovations like these away from regular people and public, nonclassified use, and toward the military and that very different type of r & d with fewer civilian applications.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter1 | September 27, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how many other people have been killed on or by a Segway Machine?

Posted by: *Futurejumps | September 27, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Segway to the afterlife: Ouch. LOL

Posted by: fbutler1 | September 27, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Exactly what evidence is there that he was (a) trying to militarize the Segway and (b) shut down civilian use. I must admit that the image of a platoon storming the barracades on Segways is rather amusing.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 27, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

An inventor has died while working on improving our world. This is a sacrifice we should all be grateful for. My sympathies go out to his loved ones.

Posted by: tramirez2 | September 27, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It would be great if golf courses started using the Segway so that each golfer can scramble for his own ball.

It would speed up the pace of play and in the end make more money for the course.

I walk the course during the spring/summer but ride in the fall since there isn't enough daylight to finish 18 holes during twilight (i.e. 1/2 day at work) hours.

too bad about Mr. Heselden. he didn't actually INVENT the Segway though.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 27, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

No, "all terrain Segway" does not automatically mean military use, much less the notion of exclusive military use. I have no idea what sort of contorted logic has you thinking an AT Segway would be of much practical use to the military, but at best without reams of development it's first use would be by civilians.

However the irony of you using military driven and funded inventions to moan witlessly about the military certainly should not go unremarked. Work on your logical skills please. If you don't people will start suspecting you're a republican.

Posted by: Nymous | September 27, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The good news - the gyroscope worked and the segway stayed rightside up during the entire fall. The bad news - well you just read it...

Posted by: DontGetIt | September 27, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Heselden died testing a new kind of Segway -- an all-terrain version, not the original one intended for paved roads. The original has a slight learning curve but is actually quite easy to manuever.

Posted by: hallosev2 | September 27, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

An all terrain segway? These things were going to be a revolution. Like the reinvention of the wheel. The reality has been somewhat different. Clever device but not the panacea that was supposed. We haven't had this kind of thing happen since Dave Thomas of Wendy's succumbed to his own burgers. How useful could an all terrain segway be, really?

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 27, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't own, but have used Segway's on several occasions. Why? Simply - I am a handicapped Veteran who cannot afford one. I have a deteriorating Nerve Disorder in my legs, and using the Seaway was a god-send - when I could borrow one.

However, in Canada, the Segway is still considered in the same category as pocket motorbikes and golf carts, therefore illegal to use on public sidewalks and streets!

If I knew I could get away with using/buying a Segway without having it impounded/confiscated (@ $6,000 a pop!) I would use one every day. Much more ergonomically healthy than a wheelchair, more energy efficient than any car, and truth be told, a helluva lot of fun to ride.

My condolences to the Heselden family on their loss.

PS - The version of Segway I used most was the one with the large "off-road" tires, perfect for trails and golf courses.

Posted by: edwin1 | September 27, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Has the Post recruited from The Onion?

Posted by: kinoworks | September 27, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

i guess they should be equipped with a parachute if driving near cliffs.

Posted by: astroman215aolcom | September 27, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I rented one at the Biltmore for 2 hours. I was blown away. It is perhaps the most intuitive pieces of technology ever. Once you quit fighting the gyros and let it do the work, you feel like George Jetson.
If you get a chance, try one.

Posted by: adtecom1 | September 27, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

gyroscopes must have screwed up.

Posted by: bnglfn | September 27, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

You're riding a Segway. You are approaching the edge of a cliff. At what point does, "Jump off the damn thing" cease being a good option?

Posted by: hoos3014 | September 27, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

When I saw this headline, I was worried that Dean Kamen had died! I had no idea that he was no longer in control of the company that manufactures Segways. I suppose that makes sense, he probably wants to work on new inventions now that the Segway has largely been refined.

As for 'safety issues' I would say riding any kind of vehicle in the vicinity of a cliff is risky. Sorry to hear of this guy's death, but that in and of itself doesn't make me more wary of Segways. I'm just disappointed that it didn't turn out to be anything more impressive. The hype leading up to the "reveal" of the "It" was bigger than Obama...

Posted by: jax75420 | September 27, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

in a word,


Posted by: potomacfever00 | September 27, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Could armored versions be used by the army? Wouldn't that be cool? In a hard-charging, kill-anything-in-your-way way? Wouldn't it be neat to see James Bond on a Segway, being pursued by five other guys riding black Segways?

Posted by: Meepo | September 27, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

more appropriate title: "British Entrepreneur Segwayed to Heaven".

Posted by: Silly_Willy_Bulldog | September 27, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse one's blamed this on Bush or Obama yet? WAPO readers - you're slacking!

Posted by: emag | September 27, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The Washington DC Segway Tourism storefront is in my building. Every day from my window I watch groups of tourists tool around Franklin Square Park for practice befoe hitting the sidewalks. I've seen a couple dozen fall off (no injuries thankfully). Highly amusing!!

Posted by: conchfc | September 27, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"Segway to heaven".....almost like a weird Al song..

Posted by: nowhine | September 27, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

You're riding a Segway. You are approaching the edge of a cliff. At what point does, "Jump off the damn thing" cease being a good option?

Posted by: hoos3014
* * *
Thank you for my first good laugh of the day!

Posted by: 7900rmc | September 27, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

A Darwin Award for sure, not to mention a Monty Python sketch. . . .

Posted by: doctorDH | September 27, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

this story is from The Onion, right?

Posted by: mar4 | September 27, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

OH wow, OK this makes a lot of sense dude.


Posted by: clermontpc | September 27, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

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