File this one in the morbidly ironic and tragic category. James Heselden, who purchased the company that makes Segways--those goofy transports that look like a cross between a unicycle and a circus bike favored by mall cops --died yesterday after apparently riding his suped-up Segway off a cliff and into a river in northern England.
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Police pulled Heselden's body from a river and also found a Segway-type vehicle in the river near his body. Details are still emerging but local police don't suspect foul play as much as they do poor driving (or riding, we're not sure what you do on those things). Heselden, 62, who bought Segway last year, was a savvy businessman and among the richest people in England. He was as well know for his generous spirit as for his deep pockets.
Not that he cares anymore, but Heselden's death is about the worst press imaginable for Segways--think of a Boeing executive perishing in a 747 crash. Unveiled in 2001, the Segway was supposed to revolutionize human transport according to inventor Dean Kamen of New Hampshire. But sales of the two-wheeled cycles didn't take off as expected, although that turned around a bit in the UK with sales taking speeding up significantly-- maybe that's why Heselden decided to buy the company. Among the safer transport devices, we barely found cases of death by Segway.