PENSACOLA, Florida and KENNEDY SPACE CENTER -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is reporting that retired Space Shuttle Astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Alan G. Pondexter died as a result of injuries he sustained in a watercraft accident (which may or may not have been a jest ski) yesterday around 1:30 p.m.
FWC says that Poindexter was out with his two sons, 22-year-old Samuel Poindexter and 26-year-old Zachary Poindexter, on borrowed personal watercraft just west of a bridge that connects Pensacola Beach and Gulf Breeze in Little Sabine Bay, Florida.
FWC Northwest Region spokesman Stan Kirkland told Brevard Times that Captain Poindexter was riding on the back of a watercraft driven by Samuel while Zachary was drving another watercraft. For some unknown reason, Samuel's watercraft had become idle - possibly due to salt spray in Samuel's face.
According to FWC, the front of Zachary's personal watercraft struck the right rear of the idle watercraft, causing Zachary's watercraft to thrust upward, striking Captain Poindexter. Both Captain Poindexter and Samuel were thrown off their watercraft and into the water. All were wearing life jackets as required by law.
A private boat came to the aid of the victims of the accident and brought Captain Poindexter onboard. Captain Poindexter told the boaters that it felt as though he had an injury to his back and ribs. During transit to shore to waiting EMS personnel, one of the boaters (possibly a vascular surgeon) performed CPR on Captain Poindexter.
Captain Pondexter was then airlifted from the scene to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida where he was later pronounced dead at age 50.
Selected by NASA in June 1998, Poindexter reported for training in August 1998. Initially, Poindexter served in the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch performing duties as the lead support astronaut at Kennedy Space Center. He served as a CAPCOM for several missions and is veteran of two space flights. Captain Poindexter has logged more than 669 hours in space. In 2008, he served as Pilot on STS-122, and in 2010 was the Commander of STS-131. Captain Poindexter retired from NASA in December 2010.