A retired astronaut, 51-year-old Capt. Alan G. Poindexter has died in a jet ski accident off Pensacola Beach as he was riding with his 22-year-old son Sunday afternoon.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say Poindexter was riding on a jet ski with his son when his 26-year-old son crashed into them with another jet ski.
Zachary Poindexter hit the rear of the jet ski, knocking his father into the water.
Wildlife agency spokesman Stan Kirkland says Poindexter was pulled from the water and taken to the beach where friends performed CPR. He died a short time later at a hospital.
Zachary and his brother Samuel were not injured.
The fish and wildlife agency is investigating the crash.
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.
”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.
He is the son of former National Security Adviser John Poindexter, who served in the Reagan administration.