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Segway Owner Dies in Crash

News of crashes has made headlines, first with the recent Apple Valley school bus crash and now the owner of the U.S. based company that makes the popular Segway transporter was found dead in a river after falling off of a cliff on a Segway vehicle. The body of British businessman Jimi Heselsen, who owned a controlling stake in the company, was found in a river in northern England after a witness reported seeing a man fall off a cliff there. The death of the company owner is not considered suspicious by local police, who do not believe anyone else was involved [1].

Segway Owner Jimi Hedelson

The majority owner of the company which makes the personal transporter originally made his personal fortune through his company Hesco Bastion Ltd., a company that provides the military troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with protective equipment. The company revealed in a statement it released that Heselsen did in fact die in the accident. Additional details were slow in coming as the police continued investigating and the family of Heselsen pled for privacy [1].

The Segway personal transporter was invented in the 1990s by Dean Kamen. It is a battery powered device that uses gyroscopes to stabilize itself. It uses electricity to recharge its batteries and is capable of top speeds of around 12 miles per hour. According to enthusiasts, it is a good choice for personal transportation because it is more efficient than cars and because it does not produce any emissions [1].

Yet this accident involving the death of the company owner is the latest public relations setback for a company that it trying to fight off perceptions of a lack of safety for its devices. There was a widespread recall in 2006, and President George W. Bush fell over a Segway at his family's home when he tried to get on it one time in 2003. There are many examples of mishaps available for viewing on YouTube and other online sources, prompting many people to questions the safety of the vehicles. And now the quiet nature of the investigation into the company owner's death is only adding to those questions and this widespread perception of safety issues.

Some Cities Embrace Personal Transporter

Segways have been banned by some cities in the United States, but others have allowed them and many people in those cities own them and love them. For many enthusiasts and owners of these personal transport machines, it is a simple matter of safety, and knowing exactly what the machine is capable of and what it was designed to do and not designed to do. Recognizing that there are limits inherent in a vehicle that only goes 12 miles per hour would seem intuitive, but video evidence posted online would appear to indicate otherwise at least in some cases.

At issue is whether the trouble lies with the Segway and its design, or with the way it is being used by operators. Details about the death of Heselsen could potentially shed significant light in this area. The Segway is a very popular machine among those who own one, but there is a lot of opposition to it at the same time.

Safety of Segway Machines

As time passes and more stories of accidents like these come to light, it is useful to consider whether such accidents are bound to happen at one time or another, much as they do with the cheapest car insurance consumers and motorcycle drivers, or whether the rate of crashes in Segway transporters is unusually high. For those who are interested in buying these machines, finding out about the safety of the Segway is an extremely important task.

[1] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100927/ap_on_hi_te/eu_britain_segway_death Retrieved 2010-09-30.

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