U.S. Navy Capt. Alan Poindexter, a retired NASA astronaut, was killed in a water scooter accident in Florida over the weekend.
Poindexter, 51, was with his two sons, 22-year-old Samuel and 26-year-old Zachary, in Little Sabine Bay on Pensacola Beach, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Stan Kirkland. Alan and Samuel Poindexter were thrown into the water when their personal watercraft was rear-ended by Zachary's. All three men were wearing life jackets.
A boater picked up Samuel and Alan Poindexter, who was initially alert and talking before falling unconscious. He was flown to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, where he was pronounced dead.
NASA posted the following to its Facebook page on Sunday night: "The NASA family was sad to learn of the passing of our former friend, and colleague Alan Poindexter who was killed today during a jet ski accident in Florida. Our thought and hearts are with his family."
Poindexter flew two space shuttle missions, one aboard Atlantis as pilot and one on Discovery as commander, logging more than 669 hours in space before retiring from NASA in December 2010 to return to the Naval Postgraduate School in California.
His former colleagues have taken to Twitter to express their thoughts.
Clayton Anderson, his crewmate aboard Discovery, tweeted, "America lost a great hero yesterday; I lost my commander, my colleague and my friend. RIP Captain Poindexter."
Nicole Stott added, "We will miss our friend Dex."
Eternal rest grant on to the soul of ALAN POINDEXTER
and perpetual light shine upon him... MAY HE REST IN PEACE.
1961 -2012 and what a life in between those dates! The man got to live the dream! Doing what he loved both in space and on earth! What a life! Some of us here could only dream of living the life he lead. I do not mourn his death, but rejoice in that great life he lead! His eyes got to see what we all only see from pictures. As I said before, what a life! You all know he enjoyed it to the fullest! May we all be so lucky!
What makes this accident so curiously ironic is that the individual who was killed did something – twice – that was unusually dangerous and survived, but then was killed doing something relatively ordinary and safe.
It reminds me of Pete Conrad. Pete was a test pilot and then he flew in space several times, including a trip to the moon and back. He survived all that, but then he died in a motorcycle accident.
I guess when your number comes up, your number comes up.
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Having only known Capt Poindexter for a short time he was a true professional, officer and a gentlemen and will be missed by all that knew and loved him.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
I place all my sympathies to the family especially to the sons that were with him at the time. God bless him and his family so he may rest in peace.
Has to be:-)
This is a very sad day. I can say whole heartedly that I am honored and privileged to have met him and served with him for even such a brief time. He was a great man, and true American to the core. The word Hero just isn't enough. We'll all miss him at NPS, but while he may be gone from us, the inspiration he left in his wake will live on.
My prayers for the family...especially for the son who "caused" the accident. I hope he will not blame himself. It was an accident. May God bless this family and bring peace during this difficult time.
Thanks for being a great boss. Us here at NPS will miss you.
I feel so sorry for his family, especially his sons. Thoughts and prayers to all.
I feel for his family ezpecially for the his Sons that were with him it just shows that God knows when our time is up no matter where we are or what we are doing and it was that his time was up and the Sons should not feel quilty for I am sure that he wouldn't have not wanted it any other way and to live his final hours with his Sons might have been his wish
As Alanis Morisette says, "Isn't ironic?
Why do idiots like you even bother to post? This is a personal family tragedy and you think your comment is funny?!
Sad that people call wave runners, jet skis.
Rest in Peace, Rocketman.
Sad that you needed to bring politics into this sad situation where a son must now live with the result of this accident. You and those who use these comments to interject your political humor or ?? are the reason why I find that the political atmosphere so laden with negative and inappropriate.
AMEN – I so agree with you. Some people just can't get over themselves, politics and hatred to have a decent word about anything. They are actually more dead than this astronaut, they just are too dumb to know it.
How very sad…..an accident, but a very sad one.
RIP Mr. Astronaut. What a tragic story.
I dislike those watercraft. They are noisy, annoying, disruptive of the peace, and deadly as well.
Proves, When its your time, its your time to go!
What a tragic accident. I never like to hear stories where one family member accidentally kills another. Young lives will be forever changed because of this. It makes me sad.
Mike, I agree. Zachary is going to feel responsible even if there was nothing he could do to avoid the collision. That makes this event even more sad.
Horribly tragic for all involved. What a cross to bear for the son...
RIP Capt Poindexter. It was my privilege and honor to work with you during my time at the Naval Postgraduate School. You will be missed!
I witnessed an accident, almost identical to this jet ski accident, ten years ago, and one person experienced severe whiplash and was partially paralyzed for several days. I like jet skis and view this event as a tragic accident. Best wishes to the families.
I saw it too... looked like his head popped off his back for a moment, then re-attached, likea rubbber band... he must have bled out... tragic. Goes to space... dies at the beach. Freaky.
This guy flew a space craft into space and you're all complaining that jet skis are dangerous?! Come on people. Once you step out of your house, your living dangerously. This man lived the adventure and risked his life everytime he put that space suit on. Living is taking risks.
Bingo! He's a hero for his courage and risk taking adventures. Accidents happen; Mr Poindexter seemed to have had a wonderful life and was an asset to our nation's space program. May God Bless his family in this time of sorrow.
"you're" living dangerously.
Who is that PR person at NASA? They called CAPT Poindexter a "former friend, and colleague" rather than a "friend, and former colleague." Was there a falling out?
Get a life.
Desiring people to speak and write the language correctly IS having a life. Not everyone wants to see official statements from Nasa showing the writing skills of an 8th grader.
If he's dead he's a 'former' everything.
My prayers to the family in this difficult time. It was simply a summer vacation gone bad. As stated before, military members receive briefings after briefings concerning summer outdoor activities. As stated in the article, they were wearing life vests. Only the surviving children know what happened. It is a sad thing he died in an accident. RIP Capt. Alexander. God speed.
I've heard of jet ski crashes but not specifically about a 'rear end' one. I'm guessing vision was obscured or not watching what was ahead (distraction?). Anyway, it shows how dangerous they can be. Sad tale, very sad.
The fact he was rear-ended almost suggests to me that the son was trying to splash his father and the other brother with a wave. People unfortunately do that all the time on jet skis and wave runners even though it's dangerous.
work lake patrol sometime and see just how easy it is to die on personal watercraft, i.e. jet skis. You hit your head hard enough and you will die, how unfortunate for the family and this American hero
What isn't dangerous? From getting into your car to drive to work, to crossing a street, to the possibility of being hit in gang crossfire, to drowning off a beach resort due to a rip tide. I've done it all – scuba dive, driving a motorcycle, driving a car, crossing a street and guess what? I'm still alive. You can't wrap your family in bubble wrap and expect them not to live life!
I envy this guy. He had the ultimate ticket to ride!
This is truly a shame. I have a jetski and was in an accident in 2005. It was not my fault. I had a lady to hit me and she sent me into the water. I was very fortunate that I did not die. People need to be very careful and watch out for others. I always stayed my distance from other boaters and jetski and still someone hit me. This lady knocked me unconscious and almost broke my neck. I had internal injuries and messed up shoulder. I also had to have surgery on a broken back. I was truly in a lot of pain. God Bless This Family! The sons truly will have a lot of pain to live with. My prayers are with them.
God, how awful, to be 26 and spend the rest of your life knowing you killed your father, almost certainly the result of doing something stupid. What a terrible burden to bear.
There is no such thing as a "smart" accident. So sad. I lost my only sister on a personal watercraft six years ago. My heart breaks for this man's family.
Is that the guy who was talking about NASA conspiracies to keep UFO, Nibiru and alien live secrets... What if the accident was actually something intentionally to shut his mouth?
Please keep your inappropriate and paranoid comments to yourself. Wait. This is the internet - this is where your kind hang out.
What really sucks is that, even as recently as three years ago, you could find some intelligent discussion in the comments section to news stories......it is now just a wasteland of morons desperate for attention.
No and no.
But, perhaps, yes. Or perhaps no.
Perhaps Captain Poindexter spoke out against were conspiracy theorists who saw nonexistant conspiracies everywhere.
Perhaps conspiracy theorists conspired to kill him to perpetuate the myth that there really are such conspiracies.
Perhaps my saying this is part of a conspiracy to cover up that there is no conspiracy.
Perhaps its simply time for you to use your brain for something besides a doorstop.
More proof that these machines shouldn't be playing in the water. Everyone knows that a jetski belongs at the airportski.
i HOPE HE'S ok.
Most are killed within one mile of home. Life is precious.
The best thing about idiotic / insensitive comments is that most of us know that we, as humans, will ALL experience the loss of a loved one in some fashion at some time – even those idiots who will then FEEL the pain they sought to inject in their comments. Perhaps they'll also understand why the rest of us will rejoice, not for their pain, but because they'll learn a real lesson when the event happens in their own lives.
There are very FEW idiots who will remain impassive or clueless when that happens and those few are never destined to achieve anything meaningful or advance to any prominence in life anyway. So don't argue with them. Just let life happen to them as it will.
Great comment. However, I would like to point out though that to say "Just let life happen to them as it will" in reference to those leaving negative comments here incorrectly implies that those individuals actually have meaningful lives. The only person that would come here to leave an insensitive comment is someone who is devoid of a true life.
Nicely stated! People are becoming more and more insensitive with each passing day. I don't know where we are headed.
Buck! I find your comment to be quite insensitive to the insensitive people here today. I guess you just described your own life there, pal.
Awesome comment! It's a very pathetic person who can only say nasty or snide comments from behind a computer keyboard. Meanwhile, if we any of these same individuals in person, they would most likely be as meek as a mouse!
Roger Waters calls it "the bravey of being out of range". You can say anything you want on the internet with very little fear of retalliation. If all we had was a soap box in the Town Square I am quite sure very few people would be so bold with their comments.
looks like the comment I was replying to was deleted – a good thing considering how terrible it was.
Yes. "Killer Son" and all his stupid, hateful remarks have been expunged.
Yes, we're moderating the comments and removing things that are inappropriate.
Let's keep it civil, everyone. If you need a reminder of our Terms of Service, here you go: http://www.cnn.com/interactive_legal.html.
Thanks for reading,
Sophia Dengo, CNN.com
I was blocked recently on a blog about that young mother who said she killed her toddler, then adopted him out, but nobody knows where the toddler is. I said, tell where he is you b##ch. And I was banned. I have seen a lot worse comments on your blogs repeatedly. Can you unblock me?
I can't, sorry. Unblocking is out of my control.
Thank you, very much.
Thank for your diligence. It's unfortunate there are so many disturbed people out there, but I appreciate that CNN does a pretty decent job of deleting the worst of their stuff.
Jann, finally, am actual human moderator. Will you please explain why CNN even allows people to comment on these pages? 99.9% of all comments left after any given article are hateful and at the very least ignorant and written on a third grade level. Remember the vile comments after Whitney Houston died? Even today; did you read the comments left after the news item about the young woman with the flesh-eating bacteria disease? Why does CNN continue to give a forum to these monsters, or trolls, as they're called. Again, they're remarks make up the vast majority of all comments.
Why do you guys censor? Isn't the fact that there are mean and nasty people something that should be known? In a way it's news ... we can't solve the problem if it can't even be quantified.
GODSPEED COMMANDER !
Thank you for your service.
@Johan S: Are you serious? There is no more widely known fact about the internet than it attracts the worst or the worst. You can't kick them all, so just stop this ridiculous practice of allowing comments. When most are so foul, NONE are necessary.
This is why we have to outlaw all things with motors.
i smell area 51 coverup – he saw something out there – all these pilots are dying mysteriously – he was alert and suddnley died? hmmmmm
All I smell is your stupidity.
Sometimes I really wish the Internet were not so Anonomous.
Eric – You are free to post you first and last name, address, and any other information you wish.
Unfortunate. Rest in peace. In the military, we hold training days that focus on what we call the 100 critical days of summer, where statistically people more often get killed off-duty...doing things like recreational activities. This accident highlights the value of this training, but still...no matter how much you train and make people aware of this stuff, risk during these activities will never be completely zero.
Hmmm. I've made it 37 years now surviving everything from Snowmobiles, ATVs, Jet Skis, Motorcycles, transcontinental travel, numerous flights, sky diving, bungie jumping, and mexican parasailing (okay that last one no one should do ever) etc without one second of military training. Why is that essential when millions make it by daily without it?
Do I really need to discuss the meaning of value?
What he's actually saying is, the risk of some activities is never zero, even if you train your ass off for it.
I love the idea of more courses available to learn how to do things including safety techniques. It would be awesome if lots of people had these skills. I've been a worry wart all my life but when I do things like hot air ballooning, zip- lining, swimming with whale sharks, I feel so incrediblibly alive. I can maybe put off death for awhile if I sit in a rocking chair but where's the fun in that? I went snorkeling in Mexico recently. I had never been so far away shore other times I had snorkeled. I panicked. The woman from the boat helped me calm down and personally guided me in the beautiful reef. I felt safe and enjoyed it. She was my angel. If I could build confidence thru training I would surely take advantage of it and share my experience with others.
How terribly tragic. My condolences to his family, friends and the entire NASA astronaut community. This is a horrific loss to America as well..
What a tragedy on a holiday week! I feel for his son Zach... A huge burden to carry the rest of his days...Godspeed, Dex.
Quite tragic. My condolences for his family.
This is the second famous person who was in a sporting related accident where there were probably massive internal injuries and no one spotted it fast enough and responded with enough medical treatment. This guy probably needed a surgical team on site immediately. This is so sad. I suspect that the supposition that the man was OK was probably the factor that signed his death warrant. We need to stop taking these things so lightly. No matter the age of the individual the human body is not made for high validity, high impact collision. The priority should have been in getting the man to a place where testing could have occurred. Flying him away to a hospital probably wasn't the answer – the resources needed to come to him – not vice versa. The emphasis on the hospital as the solution in rural areas is probably not the best one.
I agree with your thoughts about seeking early medical help, especially if a head injury is involved. He might have had an intraparenchymal bleed on his brain, which can be initially be asymptomatic, and then cause rapid deterioration and death from increased pressure on the brain. If a hospital does not have a neurosurgeon, his chances of survival would be minimal.
He was coded on the beach before reaching the hospital.
Sometimes it happens very quickly, too quickly for anything to be done.
I know of a horse trainer who died in a similar fashion. She was kicked, it appears to be in her shoulder but autopsy shows the horse did tag her head. She was knocked down, got up; was asked if she was OK; said yes, fine, I just need to sit down... and was gone. She siezed and died, about 2-3 minutes later. There was no time to get her anywhere, or for anyone to have gotten to her.
You mean like the French do? We all know how well that worked out for Princess Diana don't w!.
Adm John M. Poindexter of the Iran Contra thing.
... Son of Adm John M. Poindexter
Life can turn on a dime.
Unfortunately, jet skis do not.
Thoughts and best wishes to the family in this terrible time. Astronauts are among the True Heroes in my book.
That is the kind of zinger that really should be on a watercraft safety PSA.
Though I don't know if knowing that would have saved the man's life.
Man thats sad, i feel for the family. my prayers are with you guys. he was a good guy.
REST IN PEACE SIR.
Let's all pray for this family, this is an unfortunate accident for them all.
A good reporter would include the man's age. Doing the math, He was only around 51. Too young. :(
Big boys playing with dangerous toys and thinking that they cannot get hurt.
And even little children have serious accidents.
And sometimes people behaving responsibly with things like vehicles have accidents.
And sometimes an accident happens, and one appears to be unhurt, only to find out otherwise.
This was not a "big boys playing dangerously" accident, you ass. So please go provide us with one, as expediently and spectacularly as possible. Go for that front-page headline.
So right "Killer Son". No one has ever lost control of a vehicle even though they are operating it responsibly. All those wipeouts on wet highways? Totally the drivers' fault, no matter what the cops and insurance say.
Now. That aside. Was he reckless, or did he murder his father? They are not the same thing. One is impulsive behavior, the other is premeditated. Pick one.
Also, please feel free to back up your assertions with facts at any time.
Wow, did you ever pick the right screen name.
Zac, it was an accident! Don't go there! I am sorry for your loss..God Speed!
Looks like he spaced out.
This did not have to happen. Some people think tha they are above it all. He was a skilled man but I question his common sence? He should have taken a course in risk assessment.
I question your spelling
Way to show zero compassion. You're making statements while having nearly zero information on what actually happened. Kindly go troll elsewhere.
You should have taken a course in spelling.
Your name is appropriate. By the way, it's spelled "sense". duh
What a tragedy. His son must be devastated knowing that his error caused his dad's untimely death. This family is and will continue to be in my prayers.
Let's not be quick to judge that it was son's error, it's just as possible that they swerved in front of him unexpectedly.
Good point. In any event it will be surely be tough on the son. I hope he's able to handle it.
True dat. Not enough info in the article to know. It does not change that my thoughts and well-wishes go out to the entire family in their time of sorrow.
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