The two-time NASA space shuttle astronaut Alan Poindexter, 51, has died in a jet ski accident while on vacation in Pensacola, Florida.
Reuters reports the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as saying that Poindexter was riding WaveRunners with his two sons in Little Sabine Bay at Pensacola Beach on Sunday when the accident occurred. Poindexter was on the back of a jet ski being driven by his younger son Samuel, 22, and it was struck by the jet ski driven by Zachary, 26.
"They stopped and apparently Zachary did not see them stop," spokesman Stan Kirkland is quoted as saying. "He struck the right rear or the right stern of their personal watercraft. His watercraft went up and apparently struck Captain Poindexter in the back. Both Captain Poindexter and Samuel were ejected."
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Poindexter was talking and complaining about rib injuries when a boat took him to shore, but he lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, according to Associated Press. Neither of the sons were injured.
New York Daily News says Poindexter graduated with highest honors from Georgia Tech in 1986, with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. He was sent to Pensacola Naval Air Station for flight training and, during his time at NASA, he piloted the Atlantis space shuttle when it delivered the Columbus module to the International Space Station in 2008. Poindexter returned to space in April 2010 as commander of the shuttle Discovery.
CNN says a number of his former colleagues have expressed their condolences on Twitter. His crewmate aboard Discovery, Clayton Anderson tweeted: "America lost a great hero yesterday; I lost my commander, my colleague and my friend. RIP Captain Poindexter."
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