A British newspaper reports that Jimi Heselden lost control of his Segway before plunging off a cliff

By Simon Perry
September 30, 2010 10:45 AM
Andy Paraskos/AP

Did an act of kindness by charitable millionaire – and Segway company owner – Jimi Heselden contribute to his recent death?

That’s question posed by a British newspaper which reported that Heselden died in a freak accident after making way for a passerby.

A spokesman for police in West Yorkshire, England, could not confirm a report in UK paper The Sun that Heselden lost control while apparently reversing his two-wheeled vehicle, said to be a Segway, in order to give a pedestrian more space.

The paper quotes a source close to the inquiry who said they believe it was “a complete tragedy. His death was the result of a final act of courtesy and kindness which was typical of him.”

RELATED: Segway Company Owner Accidentally Dies Riding Segway over Cliff

A former miner, the businessman was a well-known philanthropist who donated millions of pounds to causes such as Help for Heroes, an organization for veterans.

Heselden fell down a 50-ft. cliff to his death on Sept. 26. A Segway-type vehicle was found near his body in the River Wharfe.

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen Heselden, 62, on the path that morning. A postmortem report found he died from “injuries consistent with a fall,” police say. They believe it was an accident.

The coroner’s office has received the case from the police, PEOPLE has confirmed, and an inquest will open formally in the next few days. “Inquiries are still ongoing,” a coroner’s officer says.