LONDON -- A wealthy British businessman who owns the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway people transporter has been found dead in a river after apparently falling off a cliff while operating one of the vehicles, say police.

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LONDON -- A wealthy British businessman who owns the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway people transporter has been found dead in a river after apparently falling off a cliff while operating one of the vehicles, say police.

The body of James Heselden and a Segway personal transporter were found in the River Wharfe and he was pronounced dead at the scene, West Yorkshire police said Monday.

The British owner of Segway Jimi Heselden was killed.

The British owner of Segway Jimi Heselden was killed.

Police said a witness had reported seeing a man fall Sunday over a nine-metre drop into the river near the village of Boston Spa, 225 kilometres north of London.

"The incident is not believed to be suspicious," police said. They do not believe anyone else was involved.

Police have not disclosed further details about the incident. A dozen members of Heselden's family asked for privacy Monday after placing flowers at the heavily wooded accident site, which is popular with hikers and nature lovers.

Heselden made his fortune through his firm Hesco Bastion Ltd., which developed the "Hesco" blast wall system that replaced the sandbags used to protect troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He bought control of the New Hampshire-based Segway LLC in December.

Hesco Bastion is based in Leeds, near the tough Halton Moor area where Heselden grew up. He left school at 15 and first worked as a coal miner before becoming a businessman and later a well-known philanthropist. Hesco Bastion said Heselden recently gave 10 million pounds (US$15.9 million) to the Leeds Community Foundation, raising his total charitable giving to 23 million pounds.

"(Heselden) was an amazing man who, apart from being a wonderful success story for Leeds due to his business acumen, was also remarkably selfless and generous, giving millions to local charities to help people in his home city," said Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds city council.

 

-- The Associated Press