British multimillonaire bought personal transport firm last December

A multi-millionaire former miner who late last year bought the company that makes the Segway personal transportation vehicle has died after apparently driving one of the two-wheeled powered units off a cliff while riding around his Yorkshire estate.

According to BBC News, Jimi Hesleden, aged 62 and said to be worth £166 million, lost his life when his Segway fell into the River Wharfe as he toured his estate at Thorp Arch, Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

Mr Heselden started working in the mines after leaving school at the age of 15, and was made redundant during the wave of pit closures in the 1980s. He subsequently founded the company Hesco Bastion, best known for providing portable, easy-to-erect barriers that have been deployed at British armed forces bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and which were also used in the US in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The entrepreneur led a consortium which bought Segway last December, eight years after the personal transporter was first launched. While it has never been quite the hit with the general public that its inventor Dean Kamen first envisaged – although there is a thriving Segway Polo league in Silicon Valley – it has proved popular with security companies and law enforcement agencies.

A spokesperson for Hesco Bastion told the BBC: "It is with great sadness that we have to confirm that Jimi Heselden OBE, has died in a tragic accident near his home in West Yorkshire."

The spokesperson added: "Jimi is perhaps best known for his charity work with Help for Heroes and the Leeds Community Foundation.

"A £10 million gift to the foundation earlier this month saw his lifetime charitable donations top £23 million.

"Our thoughts go out to his family and many friends, who have asked for privacy at this time."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.