September 28th, 2010
10:08 AM ET

Soldiers to Segway owner: Your product saved our lives

The British owner of Segway Inc. who drove the scooter off a cliff and died has became a huge headline grabber because of it - but his legacy may be more about the lives his company's products helped saved if messages left on his company's site are any indication.

Though little is known about James Heselden's personal life, there are details emerging about his trajectory from rags to riches. Before he amassed a fortune worth about $262 million, the 62-year-old was a coal miner, the Wall Street Journal reported. He dropped out of school to take the dirty job at 15, the paper said but had to quit after a country-wide mining strike in 1984.

Heselden used his unemployment compensation to found Hesco Bastion Ltd of Leeds, England, which purchased the Segway in 2009. He became famous in England for his philanthropy, giving more than $35 million to Leeds Community Foundation, according to the WSJ.

It appears that Heselden's legacy will be that the products, including the Hesco Bastion barrier, his company produced are credited with protecting soldiers and others at wartime. Hesco posted this short message on its site about Heselden's death, which is followed by posters who remarked how grateful they were for Hesco's protective products.

"Your Hesco bastion saved my son's life on several occasions in Iraq, along with many other soldiers and Marines," posted Douglas Price.

"As a soldier, I have been lucky enough to not only be protected by Hesco in Afghanistan," another poster wrote. "But was fortunate enough to meet Jimi. There are a lot of soldiers and civilians around the world that are still alive thanks to his company."

The company made fiberglass sprays and a retaining wall which water companies used to plug up canals. The walls were used to in the 1991 Gulf War, as protection against snipers during the Bosnia war and to protect the shore during the BP oil spill, according to the WSJ.

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Filed under: Segway • United Kingdom
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. djunior


    September 28, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • dutch homefry

      please, stop yelling, You're hurting my ears

      September 28, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • brad

      sounds like a bigger plot to me this doesnt seem right whatsoever and alot of money is involved

      September 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tripp

      He did not invent the Segway, Dean Kamen did, but he did invent the Hesco Barrier.

      September 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mr. Spade

    What's the top speed on those things? How do you not see a cliff? Seriously, C'mon.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. joe

    Perhaps he was texting on his mobile phone while segwaying. Another reason to concetrate on the road.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. John prayers are with the family.But wasnt he a little to old to be on one of those

    September 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. pcollen

    I thought they were so safe, even a Monkey could drive one:

    September 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lisa baby

    His work here was done. He helped alot of people did alot of good. our prayers are with family and friends

    September 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dona

    I'm pretty sure the gentleman knew the cliff was there – perhaps one day he woke up to the realization that, like George Eastman long before him, his "work was done."

    September 28, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jackson

    He was testing an 'off-road', beefed-up version of the street Segway which was intended for future/potential military applications. It's sad that he lost his life, but it appears his ingenuity and products have helped save countless lives. Rest in peace, sir.

    September 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John

    When I was deployed to Iraq, we loved the Hesco barriers. They were all over the place on base. Truly a great invention.

    September 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pat rust

    Such a sad, yet inspiring story! Thanks to your committment to save our soldiers lives, you lost yours. You now receive your reward in heaven. May you rest in peace. Praying for your family and friends during this difficult time of loss.

    September 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert Greer

    Malfunction or operator error?

    September 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Stevoreno

    Um, he died the way he lived? (Not walking)

    September 28, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    He wanted to be like the teenagers and so he didn't see the cliff coming. This should be a warning to all retards... 😉

    September 29, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Brieske

    You drive a Segway off a cliff the same way you crash your car (but without an immediate impact), you make a mistake. Much like people posting some of the ridiculous words about this man's plight because he was connected to war.
    It's poor behavior regarding a sad accident. This man helped educate many people and save people's lives.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gavin Emmerson

    I have to agree with Jim,

    You should all be ashamed with your selves! A great man has passed away! He has not only helped to save many service men and women but has touched so many peoples lives. He has given to more charities than I even knew exist.

    A truly remarkable man.

    RIP Jimi

    October 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |