A man who delighted thousands of children by impersonating Batman at hospitals and charity events has died after being hit by his own Batmobile.
Leonard B Robinson died while he was inspecting his car, which had broken down, when another vehicle drove into the Batmobile.
The 51-year-old was returning from a weekend festival in South Charleston, West Virginia, when he was struck by a Toyota Camry at about 10.30pm, near Hagerstown in Maryland.
RIP Lenny, the real Batman pic.twitter.com/qQfVPQqneM— Jin Lim (@JinnyBoy) August 18, 2015
The car had broken down and so Robinson pulled onto the central reservation, with the passenger side partly in the traffic lane.
Police said the Camry also sideswiped the red-and-black Batmobile, a replica of the car used in the 1960s Batman television show. The Camry driver, a 39-year-old man from Charlottesville, Virginia, wasn't hurt and hasn't been charged.
Police said Robinson's car was uninsured and wore a Maryland license, "4BATMAN," that was issued to another vehicle.
Robinson, who co-owned an appliance repair business in Falls Church, Virginia, began visiting hospitalised children in 2001, masquerading as his son's favourite superhero, according to Robinson's website.
He gained national attention in 2012 when a dashcam video surfaced of police in Silver Spring, Maryland, pulling him over while he was driving his black Lamborghini - not the Batmobile replica - dressed as Batman. Robinson traded the Lamborghini for the Batmobile later that year.
He averaged about 18 visits a year to hospitals, schools and charity events, handing out toys and t-shirts, giving Batman autographs and discouraging kids from bullying, according to his website and his father, Larry Robinson.
He said of his son’s work: ”To see these children, the smiles that come onto their faces - it was like a miracle for these children.”
The Washington Post reported in 2012 that Robinson spent $25,000 of his own money on Batman-related items for kids every year.
Leonard Robinson, who visited sick kids in hospitals as Batman, died yesterday in a crash. RIPAugust 18, 2015
Sharen Sumpter-Deitz, a board member of the South Charleston, West Virginia, Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Robinson had left for home Sunday afternoon after meeting hundreds of children over the weekend at the city's Summerfest, two daycare centers and a library. It was his third visit, she said.
"He always told the children how much he valued them and how good they were and that everything they did meant something," she said. "He made them feel like they were the most important person in the whole wide world when he was talking to them."
DC Entertainment, the Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. unit that owns Batman, said it was aware of Robinson's work and had no objections. The company posted a message on the official Batman Facebook page: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Leonard Robinson, who shared his love of Batman with everyone around him."
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