Millionaire Segway owner dies in cliff fall

LONDON (Reuters) - The British millionaire businessman who owns the firm Segway has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff with one of the two-wheeled electric scooters near his body, police said on Monday.

Jimi Heselden, 62, who bought the U.S.-based firm, and who was also chairman of Hesco Bastion, was discovered in a river near Leeds, northern England, on Sunday.

The incident, described as a freak accident in the media, was not being treated as suspicious. A Segway was found near his body, a police spokeswoman said. “It is with great sadness that we have to confirm that Jimi Heselden has died in a tragic accident near his home in West Yorkshire,” Hesco Bastion said in a statement.

A family spokesman said speculation about the cause of his death had been deeply upsetting.

“There is absolutely nothing to suggest it was anything other than a tragic accident,” he said in a statement.

Invented by Dean Kamen, the self-balancing Segway scooter was made famous by then U.S. President George W. Bush when he took one for a spin, only to jump off after losing control.

Heselden, a former miner who left school at the age of 15, became a wealthy businessman, donating millions of pounds to charity. This month, he gave 10 million pounds ($16 million) to a community project which helps disadvantaged areas.

He made his fortune with Leeds-based Hesco Bastion, which developed a flat-pack wire mesh “blast wall” container, replacing the traditional sandbags, used by British and coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Media reports said Heselden was one of Britain’s richest men, with a fortune put at 166 million pounds ($260 million).

Writing by Avril Ormsby