Former astronaut Poindexter dies in watercraft accident

Tue Jul 3, 2012 3:35am EDT
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By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - 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, Kirkland said.

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 tragedy."

Poindexter is the son of former U.S. National Security Adviser John Poindexter, who served in the Reagan administration.   Continued...

STS-131 commander Alan Poindexter poses for a photo in the Cupola of the International Space Station in this NASA file photograph on April 17, 2010. Former astronaut Alan Poindexter died in a water sports accident in Florida on July 1, 2012, NASA confirmed. REUTERS/NASA/Files