Segway Accident Takes the Life of Company OwnerSep 27, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
The owner of the company that makes Segway scooters has died – the victim of a Segway accident. The 62-year-old Jimi Heselden was testing a new model of a cross-country Segway when he died.
The Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle driven by electric motors that can reach up to 12.5 miles per hour. Computers and motors in the base of the device keep the Segway upright when powered on with balancing enabled. Users lean forward to go forward, lean back to go backward, and turn by using a “Lean Steer” handlebar, leaning it left or right. Gyroscopic sensors are used to detect tilting of the device which indicates a departure from perfect balance. Motors driving the wheels are commanded as needed to bring the Segway back into balance.
According to the Associated Press, a witness had reported seeing a man fall Sunday over a 30-foot drop into the river near the village of Boston Spa, 140 miles north of London. Heselden’s body and a Segway personal transporter were found in the River Wharfe and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Heselden’s tragic death came just days after a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine reported that Segway injuries are significant and on the rise. According to the report, a quarter of the patients who came to a Washington D.C. emergency room with Segway injuries were admitted to the hospital. Forty percent of the admitted patients were admitted to the ICU because they had traumatic brain injuries. Only seven percent of the patients had worn helmets.
According to the Annals of Emergency Medicine report, the number of cases increased significantly over time, with three cases appearing in 2006, eight cases appearing in 2007 and 25 cases appearing in the first 11 months of 2008. All of the injuries were the result of people falling off the Segway, and usually hitting an inanimate object.
Segways have also been the subject of two recalls. In 2006, 23,500 Segways were recalled because of a software glitch that could make its wheels unexpectedly reverse direction, throwing off the rider. At the time, there had been six reports of Segway accidents resulting in head and wrist injuries. These injuries included broken teeth, a broken wrist and facial injuries including one that needed surgical repair.
In 2003, the first 6,000 Segway scooters sold were recalled because of a problem that could cause riders to fall off the device when the battery was depleted. The problem could occur if the rider speeds up abruptly, encounters an obstacle, or continues to ride after receiving a low-battery alert. At the time of this recall, there had been three reports of falls possibly related to this condition, including one report of a consumer who sustained a head injury requiring stitches.