Retired NASA Astronaut Alan Poindexter Killed in Jet Ski Accident

Alan Poindexter inside the Cupola onboard the International Space Station during shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission - which he commanded - in 2010.  Photo Credit: NASA

Alan Poindexter inside the Cupola onboard the International Space Station during shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission - which he commanded - in 2010. Photo Credit: NASA

United States Navy Captain and retired NASA Astronaut Alan Poindexter lost his life Sunday in a tragic jet ski accident near Little Sabine Bay off Pensacola Beach, Florida.  A veteran of two space shuttle flights, Poindexter was reportedly on a jet ski with his younger son Samuel when his oldest son, Zacharay, crashed into and struck Poindexter.  Captain Poindexter was airlifted to Baptist Hospital where he later died.

“Zacharay hit the rear of the jet ski the father and his brother were on,” said Stan Kirkland, an FWC public information officer. “Capt. Poindexter was then knocked off his jet ski.  We’re conducting an investigation, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

Retired NASA Astronaut and Navy Captain Alan "Dex" Poindexter lost his life July 1 in a tragic jet ski accident.  Photo Credit: NASA

Retired NASA Astronaut and Navy Captain Alan "Dex" Poindexter lost his life July 1 in a tragic jet ski accident. Photo Credit: NASA

Affectionately known as “Dex” to family and friends, Poindexter graduated with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1986, earning a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering.  He went on to become a Naval Aviator, piloting the famed F14 Tomcat and served on two deployments to the Persian Gulf during operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch.  Poindexter graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School / U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Cooperative Program in 1995 where he earned a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering, becoming a test pilot and Project Officer at the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron (NSATS) at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

Captain Poindexter was serving as department head at NAS Oceana, Virginia when he was selected for Astronaut training in 1998.  In addition to his two shuttle flights on STS-122 and STS-131, the Rockville, Maryland native served in the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch and served as CAPCOM for several shuttle missions.

Poindexter (upper-left) is pictured here with his STS-131 Discovery crew inside the Cupola onboard the International Space Station.  Poindexter served as commander of the STS-131 mission in 2010 - his last shuttle flight.  Photo Credit: NASA

Poindexter (upper-left) is pictured here with his STS-131 Discovery crew inside the Cupola onboard the International Space Station. Poindexter served as commander of the STS-131 mission in 2010 - his last shuttle flight. Photo Credit: NASA

Poindexter’s first shuttle flight was on the space shuttle Atlantis in 2008, where he served as Pilot on mission STS-122, delivering the European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory to the International Space Station.  His second – and final – space flight was as commander of space shuttle Discovery’s penultimate mission on STS-131 in 2010, where he and his crew delivered the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station.  During those two shuttle flights Captain Poindexter logged 669 hours (nearly a month) in space, and travelled over 11 million miles, orbiting the Earth 441 times.

When he retired from the Astronaut Corps in December of 2010, Peggy Whitson – Chief of the Astronaut Office – remarked, “Dex was a well-respected leader within our office, We will miss him being part of our team and wish him the best in his new role as he continues his service to the Navy and the country.”  NASA issued the following statement hours after learning of Poindexter’s passing: “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 thoughts and hearts are with his family.”

U.S. Navy Captain and retired NASA Astronaut Alan G. "Dex" Poindexter: November 5, 1961 - July 1, 2012.  Photo Credit: NASA

U.S. Navy Captain and retired NASA Astronaut Alan G. "Dex" Poindexter: November 5, 1961 - July 1, 2012. Photo Credit: NASA

At the time of his passing, Poindexter was serving as dean of students and executive director of programs at the Naval Postgraduate School.  He was 50 years old.

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15 comments to Retired NASA Astronaut Alan Poindexter Killed in Jet Ski Accident

  • Christina Smythe

    This is a very sad news. He will definitely be missed by so many people. Rest in peace Commander Poindexter. Someone should create a memorial page for him on Evertalk within Facebook.
    https://apps.facebook.com/evertalk

  • Jacklyn Johnson

    My condolences to Admiral Poindexter’s family. Bless his beautiful soul. Thanks for the heads up on the Evertalk page Christina.

  • Ben Evans

    What awful, horrifying news. A sad and untimely end to one of humanity’s finest.

  • Ross Goodwin

    I knew him as an Astronaut, but as a friend also. I will miss the get togethers we would have in the Shuttles flightdeck before tanking fuel for launch. I also meet him at JSC while he was all wet in the the BIG swimming pool training for a mission. I will miss him grealty. My prayers go out to his family and friends. Ross Goodwin, Spacecreaft Operator.

  • CDR Denise J. McCallaCreary, USN, RET

    I was just in a meeting with Capt. P about two weeks ago. I got a speeding ticket trying to make the meeting on time. When I shared that with him, he was so kind. I was thinking about him all night last night and first thing this morning as I was due in court to try to beg the mercy of the court. I am still reeling from the news. This is one of those times if you believe in God, you ask why? Because it makes no sense. We communicated via e-mail about last week. I believe he was on vacation then. My first time meeting him was last year around October in regards to our Chapter, the National Naval Officers Association at the Postgraduate School. He could not have been more supportive. I did not know him long but my heart is torn in pieces. I just cannot believe it! They say the good dye young. At this rate, I have to be bad! I want him back sitting at his desk telling me all he wants me to do for next years Martin Luther King celebration.

  • CDR Denise J. McCallaCreary, USN, RET

    correction “die” vs “dye”.

  • Who says men don’t cry? I did, it just felt right. You will be missed greatly.

  • CDR Greg Moore, USNR, Ret

    Fair winds and following seas my friend. We were LSO’s together years ago and I’ve always looked admiringly at all you accomplished.

    My thoughts and prayers are with Dex’s family-

  • Chris Campion

    We went thru meridian together and I remember him fondly as a great guy and a great stick. Our prayers & condolenses go out to his family.

  • LCDR Gerald Leekey, USNR

    A heartbreaking event for this family, and a tragic loss for the aviation community.

    I’m sure many, many are are thankful for the way Dex touched their lives.

  • Neal Rudin

    A great mountain peak on Mercury must be named after him or the landing site that our new Mars rover will make as it touched down. Can the arm of this rover write his name on that site?

  • […] States Navy Captain and retired NASA Astronaut Alan Poindexter lost his life Sunday in a tragic jet ski accident near Little Sabine Bay off Pensacola Beach, Florida. […]

  • Michael Harleman

    It is truly sad when anyone passes away in death. Even Jesus Christ, who knew he had the power given him by Jehovah God to resurrect Lazarus, was brought to tears as he witnessed the effect that death had on Lazarus’s family and friends.

    At Acts 24:15, Paul said, “and I have hope toward God, which hope these [men] also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” And Jesus himself said at John 11:25, “Jesus said to her (Martha), ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life.'”

    And my personal favorite at John 5:28,29, Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”

    Contrary to what Christendom teaches, the majority of mankind will inherit eternal life right here on Earth. Psalms 37:29 says, “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”

    So many ask, “Why does God allow suffering and death right now? How could a God of love let something like this happen?” You see the explanation is quite simple really. A wicked angel challenged Jehovah and said that all men would gladly rather rule themselves then give in to rule by God who had created them. The first man and woman agreed with that angel by their actions. Romans 5:12 explains, “That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”

    The situation is very temporary, and we can clearly see we are living in the time when these things will soon end. Just look at scriptures like Matthew 24 or Luke 21 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Alan Poindexter and all people who have experienced unjust death in this present system of things will return to walk the earth again in paradise conditions. If you would like to know more, just look in your phone book and call the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They would be more than happy to answer any questions they can.

  • CDR Denise J. McCallaCreary, USN, RET

    Thank you.

  • Pam

    My prayers are with his family.