US & Canada

Batman impersonator Leonard Robinson dies in car accident

Lenny Robinson dressed as Batman cuddles two boys. Date unknown Image copyright Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Image caption Robinson had been visiting sick children since 2001 but shot to fame in 2012

An American man famed for dressing up as Batman and visiting sick children in hospital has died after he was hit by a car in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Police said Leonard Robinson's car had broken down in the fast lane of a major highway when the incident occurred.

He was struck by his own "Batmobile" after another car careered into it.

Robinson, 51, rose to fame in 2012, when a video went viral of him being pulled over by police because his car had invalid number plates.

Known as the "Route 29 Batman", Robinson had spent the last 14 years visiting sick children in hospital and handing out Batman paraphernalia in full superhero dress.

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Media captionPolice could be heard on the 2012 video saying "you can send me Robin if you wish"

According to the Washington Post, he sold his commercial cleaning business to help fund his "Batmobile" - a black Lamborghini. The paper said he spent more than $25,000 (£16,000) of his own money on Batman toys, T-shirts and books to give to children.

"I'm just doing it for the kids," Robinson told the paper in a profile of him from 2012.

He also drove a replica of the car from the 1960s Batman TV show, which he went on to use to visit children in hospitals across the country.

His son would occasionally join him on hospital visits dressed as Batman's sidekick, Robin.

Robinson was never charged in the 2012 incident that thrust him into the public spotlight, telling police he was on his way to cheer up children at a cancer ward in a nearby hospital.

Montgomery County police department, to which the officers belonged, said it was "saddened by the news" of his death.

"The footage depicted a positive and humorous interaction between officers and Robinson. It was evident that the officers and Robinson had a mutual respect for each other and the job that each was trying to accomplish that day," it said in a statement.

A number of people have paid tribute to him on Twitter, including the Bowie Baysox - a minor league Baseball team in Maryland - which said: "The Baysox offer heartfelt condolences to Lenny Robinson's family. He appeared as Batman at the Baysox several times."

According to the Washington Post, he was returning from a car show in Virginia when the incident occurred. Police say the crash is under investigation, but no charges have been filed.

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