The multi-millionaire owner of the Segway company died in a freak accident yesterday when he rode one of the high-tech two-wheel machines off a cliff and into a river.
Businessman Jimi Heselden, 62, plunged off cliffs and into the River Wharfe while riding around his North Yorkshire estate on a rugged country version of the Segway.
He bought the firm in December 2009 and was using one of the machines – which use gyroscopes to remain upright and are controlled by the direction in which the rider leans – to inspect the grounds of his property.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said today: ‘Police were called at 11.40am yesterday to reports of a man in the River Wharfe, apparently having fallen from the cliffs above.
‘A Segway-style vehicle was recovered.
‘He was pronounced dead at the scene.
‘At this time we do not believe the death to be suspicious.’
His death comes just a week after he became one of the UK’s most generous philanthropists, having given away £10 million to a charity foundation he set up in 2008. He had previously given £13 million to the same foundation.
Mr Heselden was worth £166 million and ranked 395th on the Sunday Times Rich List – above X Factor boss Simon Cowell.
The ex-miner made his fortune with Leeds-based defence company Hesco Bastion.
The company pioneered ‘blast walls’ – steel-mesh baskets – which replaced sandbags as protection for soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But Mr Heselden was also an extremely generous philanthropist and in 2008 he set up Leeds Community Foundation with a £10m donation, which he topped up with a further £3 million in 2009 and another £10m in September this year.