Dallas officials are investigating the death of a 24-year-old man who was found unconscious in the street next to a broken Lime electric scooter.
Jacoby Stoneking rented the scooter after a late shift at work on Sunday morning. Before he reached home, Stoneking called his roommate and asked him to send a Lyft to where he was located, according to an account given to reporters.
Stoneking said he hurt his foot during the ride and sounded angry, his roommate recalled, so he ordered the ride immediately after the phone call.
When the Lyft driver arrived, Stoneking was unresponsive. Police said he was covered in scrapes and the scooter had been cut in half.
His death may be the first linked to the dockless electric scooter industry, the nascent industry modeled after (and featuring many of the same players as) the dockless bike share industry.
Last month, a 21-year-old woman in Cleveland was riding an electric scooter when a drunk driver hit and killed her. In that case, authorities have not yet confirmed whether she using a dockless rental scooter. But the crash had occurred less than two weeks after Red, a competitor to Lime, dropped 100 scooters off on city sidewalks.
Working out kinks and potential dangers
The dockless bike industry has mostly abandoned Dallas following new city regulations that were meant to limit bike littering and raise revenue for the city.
But in their place, electric scooter companies began dropping their inventories off in July. Electric scooters are also being tested or considered for use in San Francisco, Denver, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles, among other cities.
Electric scooters can reach speeds as high as 20 m.p.h, and experts warn that the devices can come with the risk of injury or even death. Riders in Dallas and San Francisco have reportedly broken bones on rides in recent months.
The industry appears to still be working out some kinks in its technology. Bradley Brownell, a reporter for Jalopnik, in April described riding an electric scooter alongside a friend who noticed mid-ride that his scooter “did not have strong enough brakes” to stop while going downhill.
Stoneking’s family told local media that he was a skilled skateboarder and not the type of person who would struggle with an electric scooter. They want police to investigate the possibility of a hit-and-run.
“My absolute instinct about this -- this was not just about an accident about him and a scooter,” his brother told local news. “I think someone else was involved.”
Editor's note: the title of this article has been changed to indicate that this accident was not the first linked to the dockless e-scooter industry, as previous incidents have been reported in various U.S. cities.