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Bill Freehling is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Bill Freehling.

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Does fatal crash bring Segway safety into question?

A Segway crash that killed the owner of the two-wheeled electric device company is certain to make some question the safety of the device. On Monday the body of 62-year-old Segway owner Jimi Heselden was found in a frigid river near his home in West Yorkshire, England. An Associated Press photo of Heselden is running with this post. A Segway was found near him. He apparently rode the Segway off a 30-foot cliff to his death. Police say foul play isn’t suspected.

UPDATE: Newspaper in Yorkshire reports that post-mortem examination shows that Heselden died “as a result of a fall.”

The accident is sure to get some attention in Fredericksburg, where Old Town Seg Tours was recently granted approval from City Council to run Segway tours of downtown. The National Park Service has also been running Segway tours of the Spotsylvania Court House battlefield this past summer. The other photo with this post is of one of these tours. I went on one of these tours this summer, and the guides spoke of the impressive safety record of the device. One woman did fall off her Segway while attempting a dismount during the two-hour tour, though she wasn’t hurt.  

UPDATE: I just got an e-mail from Matthew J. Dailida, vice president of government affairs and business development for Segway, saying that the device is “an extremely safe personal transportation product” that is “widely used by well over 1,000 police departments worldwide.”

I plan to have an article on this topic in tomorrow’s FLS. In the meantime, take this poll:

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/businessbrowser/2010/09/28/does-fatal-crash-bring-segway-safety-into-question/

  • dennis

    I note the Wash Post article does not say whether or not there might be contributing factors such as a heart attack or stroke.

  • Anne

    When we have real tragedies happening in our neighborhoods to our young people, this is what you deem important? How about talking about real issues as in how to make our young drivers and roads safer? I am sure you can find issues of greater importance to our community that this.

  • jamie

    It’s not the contraption itself that poses a danger, it’s the user. Similar to a car or bike, they are only as safe as you operate them.

  • havingfun

    Are there big cliffs on the Segway Route in downtown Fredericksburg?

    Do people die when riding bikes off a cliff? How about planes, trains or automobiles? Or what about a horse?

    I guess it is a little ironic that he died riding the device that his company creates, but not so out there really and I don’t think a story about the safety of Segways is really needed…unless the device is found to have faulty parts or something (like Toyota’s), then no real story here.

  • Kathy Buford

    I had a horrible accident on a Segway. Broke my shoulder, dislocated my collarbone and broke my pelvis in three places. I was in Annapolis two weeks ago and saw a woman fall off of one. I don’t care what anyone says, they’re unsafe, especially when people are renting them after 30 minutes or less of instruction!

  • RK

    I think your story was an unnecessary attention seeking ploy. Hey, I’m bored, so let me find some way to associate a tragedy with a new successful downtown business. Way to go.

  • http://www.dailykitten.com/ Myron Dunkelbuhlenburg

    ALARM!! DANGER!! The recent avalanche of Segway slaughters demands that these two wheeled death dispensers be banned from the planet forthwith! Oh the humanity! Headline after headline has recounted the carnage occurring everyday in this country, and nations around the world, when these gyroscope guillotines turn and dispatch their unwary owners. How many young promising lives need be snuffed out before someone (THE GOVERNMENT!!) acts! We need a ribbion! We need a telethon! STOP THE MADNESS!

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