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Segway Company Owner Dies After Segway Accident

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Owner of Segway company dies in Segway accidentThere have been wide reports that James Heselden, owner of the company that makes the Segway personal transporter, died after apparently falling off a cliff and into a river while riding one of the Segway devices. According to reports, police have not released details of their investigation, but the incident is not believed to be suspicious.

Witnesses are reported to have seen a man fall Sunday over a 30 foot drop into the river. Jimi Heselden’s body and a Segway personal transporter were found in the River Warfe shortly thereafter.

Heselden’s death tragically coincides with a new study to be published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine finding that injuries sustained while riding Segway transporters are significant and on the rise.

According to an NBC report:

People hurt on the self-balancing devices are more likely to be admitted to the hospital, particularly with traumatic head and face injuries, than pedestrians struck by cars, said Dr. Mary Pat McKay, a professor of emergency medicine and public health at the George Washington University.

She’s urging U.S. consumer safety experts to better monitor harm from the tens of thousands of Segways in use nationwide.

“What we need is a system to look at this on a national basis, which we don’t have now,” said McKay. “People are falling off of Segways and they’re really getting hurt.”

According to the study, victims of Segway accidents are likely to suffer facial trauma, brain injuries and serious fractures of clavicles, robs, ankles and arms.

A quick search of YouTube reveals a number of Segway crash videos (including several compilations). Though the videos are often accompanied by laughter, the serious risks are nothing to laugh about.


This video and others like it should serve as a warning. If you choose to ride a Segway, be sure to follow these safety tips:

  • Be sure that you meet the minimum weight requirements for the device. Segways should not be ridden if you weigh less than 100 pounds because you may not be able to slow down or stop the Segway, since you must shift your weight back and forth to maneuver the device.
  • Wear a properly fitting helmet when you ride.
  • Begin in "Turtle" mode – a low speed beginner mode – until you become comfortable with the device.
  • Learn to ride. Like a bicycle or motorcycle, there is a learning curve. Take a training course or have an experienced rider teach you how to ride, turn, stop and spot.
  • Do you push the Segway past its limits.
  • Do not let children ride the Segway or do so only with adequate supervision.
  • Do not take unnecessary risks such as riding near traffic, hills or other dangerous terrain.

More Segway coverage:

Segway officials say their training materials — a 30 minute video, reading materials and demonstration — are sufficient. However, the accident and injuries in the George Washington University Hospital Emergency Department study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine may suggest otherwise. Since 2001, approximately 50,000 Segways have been sold. Injury reports from the devices continue to rise.

(c) Copyright 2010 Brett A. Emison