* Alan Poindexter, 50, flew two space shuttle missions
* He was killed in watercraft crash in Pensacola, Florida
* Poindexter headed Naval Postgraduate School in California
(Adds details from investigator)
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 2 Alan Poindexter, a
two-time space shuttle astronaut, has died after a personal
watercraft accident in Pensacola, Florida, NASA said on Monday.
Poindexter, 50, was riding WaveRunners with his two sons in
Little Sabine Bay at Pensacola Beach on Sunday when the accident
occurred, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission said.
Poindexter and his 22-year-old son Samuel were riding on one
WaveRunner and his older son, 26-year-old Zachary, was on
another, spokesman Stan Kirkland said.
"They stopped and apparently Zachary did not see them stop,"
Kirkland said. "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."
The former astronaut was pulled from the water and taken to
the beach where friends attempted to revive him. He was flown by
helicopter to Baptist Hospital where he died from his injuries,
Poindexter's sons were not injured. All three men were
wearing life jackets as required by law, Kirkland said.
"It's technically still under investigation until our report
is completed," he said, but added that investigators were
satisfied it was an accident and considered it "a terrible
Poindexter is the son of former U.S. National Security
Adviser John Poindexter, who served in the Reagan
Poindexter, who went by the nickname "Dex," made two space
flights during his career with NASA. In February 2008, he was
the pilot aboard the shuttle Atlantis on a mission to deliver
the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory module to the
International Space Station.
Poindexter returned to space in April 2010 as commander of
the shuttle Discovery on one of the final cargo runs to the
station before the shuttles were retired.
“"The NASA family was sad to learn of the passing of our
former friend and colleague Alan Poindexter," NASA wrote in a
Facebook post. “"Our thought and hearts are with his family."
“"He was a talented, courageous Navy veteran with gifts,"
astronaut Greg Johnson wrote on Twitter. "“Dex was a lovable guy
with a strong work ethic."
A captain in the U.S. Navy, Poindexter left NASA in December
2010 to become dean of students at the Naval Postgraduate School
in Monterey, California. He earned a master of science degree in
aeronautical engineering from the school in 1995.
Poindexter was born in 1961 in Pasadena, California, but
considered Rockville, Maryland, to be his hometown. He earned a
bachelor of aerospace engineering degree from the Georgia
Institute of Technology, then was commissioned in the Navy.
Poindexter flew combat missions in Iraq during Operation
Desert Storm and Operation Southern Watch, then became a test
pilot. He logged more than 4,000 hours flying time in more than
30 types of aircraft.
He was selected to join NASA's astronaut corps in June 1998.
His wife Lisa is from Gulf Breeze, Florida, near where the
(Additional reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Will Dunham)