The death of a 24-year-old man in Dallas involving an electric scooter has underscored a tumultuous time for motorized dockless scooters as they battle for municipal approval.
The cause of death for Jacoby Stoneking has yet to be determined, but it comes amid a nationwide conversation about the motorized, dockless scooters that have proved difficult for municipalities to regulate. Lime, the company that operates the scooter associated with the deadly accident, is one of 10 similar companies denied a permit to operate in San Francisco last Thursday.Lime, valued at more than $1 billion, boasts investment from Uber and Alphabet, Google's parent company. It aggressively opened in dozens of cities and sometimes launched before some of those municipalities could pass regulations for the nascent industry. Some residents in these cities have not been happy. Many have complained about reckless riders, blocked sidewalks and paths because there are no docking stations and people ditching scooters on roadsides.
In announcing the winning bids from smaller rival companies Skip and Scoot, San Francisco denied several other businesses from operating in the city. The City Council said in a statement: "… no other applications substantially exceeded the agency’s standards for operating a shared scooter pilot program in San Francisco to the extent that Scoot and Skip did."
Lime CEO and co-founder Toby Sun responded in a statement that the city had "selected inexperienced scooter operators that plan to learn on the job, at the expense of the public good." The San Francisco-based company has criticized the application process, and plans to appeal.
Lime, however, was granted permission to operate in Santa Monica, California, on Thursday, along with Bird, Uber and Lyft, which are expanding into scooter sharing. Lime also expanded into Baltimore over Labor Day weekend.
Lime earlier this year expanded into Dallas, where officers responded to a call at 4:05 a.m. Saturday regarding "an individual injured while riding a scooter," according to a statement released by the Dallas Police Department.
"A witness was contacted by the injured individual stating he fell off a scooter and asked the witness to order him a Lyft ride. The witness order a Lyft ride as requested. The Lyft driver arrived and found the injured person unresponsive and called 911. Responding officers observed scrapes and bruising to the injured persons hands and lower extremities," the statement said.
Stoneking was taken to Baylor Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:41 p.m. Sunday, police said.
Officers later said they found a Lime Scooter "broken in half against the curb."
The Dallas Medical Examiner's office told ABC News that an official cause of death had not been determined.
A spokesman for the city of Dallas said the city "didn't want too many regulations for the scooters. It was a wait-and-see approach and we'd let the market decide." Motorized scooters were banned in the city until June 27, he added. Minors on scooters are required to wear helmets. It remains unclear if Stoneking was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
"We are deeply saddened to hear the report of this incident in Dallas," a spokeswoman for Lime said in a written statement. "We are awaiting the results of the investigation, and we will cooperate fully with the authorities.”
Friends and family have set up a GoFundMe account to pay for Stoneking's funeral expenses. On the memorial page, he is described as "the most caring man anyone could ever meet. A pet-loving, reptile enthusiast, he cared for many of his favorite cold blooded creatures, and a pack of canine pals. He will be overwhelmingly missed by all that knew him."