Ex-astronaut killed in water scooter crash in Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. — A former NASA astronaut who commanded space shuttle Discovery’s second-to-last mission died after water scooter crash involving his sons near Pensacola Beach.

Capt. Alan Poindexter died Sunday after a scooter driven by his 26-year-old son, Zachary, collided into the back of a water scooter that the former astronaut was riding.

“They were both moving and for some reason Capt. Poindexter stopped his watercraft and Zachary for some reason didn’t see him stop,” said Stan Kirkland, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Zachary’s watercraft went up and struck Capt. Poindexter.”

Another son, 22-year-old Samuel, was on Poindexter’s scooter. They were thrown into the water. A boat picked up Poindexter and took him to shore. He was talking and complaining about rib injuries but he lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The accident happened in a bay between Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach in Florida’s Panhandle where Poindexter had been vacationing.

No charges were filed, Kirkland said, and an exact cause of death would be determined by the medical examiner.

After retiring from NASA in December 2010, six months before the shuttle program ended, Poindexter took a job as dean of students at the Naval Postgraduate School where he had graduated in 1995.

School spokesman Alan Richmond did not immediately comment.

Poindexter was selected to be in the astronaut corps in 1998. He flew on his first mission a decade later when he was a pilot aboard Atlantis’ mission to install the Columbus laboratory at the international space station. He commanded Discovery’s second-to-last flight in April 2010, a mission to resupply the space station.

The shuttle program ended in July 2011.

During a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, Poindexter said he was inspired to be an astronaut while studying at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the 1980s.

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Information from: Pensacola News Journal, http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com

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