Segway boss Jimi Heselden dies in scooter cliff fall

Jimi Heselden

Mr Heselden was said to have donated more than £23m to charity

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The millionaire owner of the Segway company has died after falling from cliffs while riding one of his firm's motorised scooters.

Jimi Heselden, 62, crashed into the River Wharfe while riding the vehicle round his estate in Thorp Arch, Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, on Sunday.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. The scooter was found in the water.

Mr Heselden, who founded Leeds-based company Hesco Bastion, acquired the Segway operation in December 2009.

The devices are electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing machines. They were invented by Dean Kamen and unveiled in 2001.

A family spokesman said Mr Heselden was a "much-loved father and husband".

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said: "Police were called at 1140 yesterday to reports of a man in the River Wharfe, apparently having fallen from the cliffs above."

'Tragic accident'

Mr Heselden grew up in the Halton Moor area of Leeds, leaving school at 15 and working down local pits.

He worked as a miner until losing his job in a wave of redundancies in the 1980s.

His engineering business, which produces military and flood protection equipment, went from strength-to-strength and he had a fortune reported to be £166m, making him one of the top 400 richest people in the UK.

Segway scooter Segways were unveiled in 2001 and first produced the following year

The tycoon was well known for his donations to charity, giving more than £20m to good causes.

In 2009 Mr Heselden, who leaves a wife and children, led a British team which bought the United States-based Segway firm.

A family spokesman said: "Our family has been left devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of a much-loved father and husband."

A spokesman for Hesco Bastion said: "It is with great sadness that we have to confirm that Jimi Heselden OBE has died in a tragic accident near his home in West Yorkshire."

The spokesman added: "Jimi is perhaps best known for his charity work with Help for Heroes and the Leeds Community Foundation.

'Selfless and generous'

"A £10m gift to the foundation earlier this month saw his lifetime charitable donations top £23m.

"Our thoughts go out to his family and many friends."

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: "Jimi was an amazing man who, apart from being a wonderful success story for Leeds due to his business acumen, was also remarkably selfless and generous, giving millions to local charities to help people in his home city."

He added that Mr Heselden would be remembered for his "quiet manner, good nature and tremendous pride in being from Leeds".

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