FILE UNDER -- Alpine

Former Minnesota ski racer dies in Iraq

Former Minnesota ski racer dies in Iraq{mosimage}Kelly Hinz, a Woodbury, Minnesota native, was killed on Monday, May 2 when the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet he was piloting apparently collided with a companion Hornet over south-central Iraq. The pilot of the other plane, Major John C. Spahr, was killed as well. Initial evidence points towards a sandstorm and lightning as possible reasons for the collision.

Hinz, 30, was a 1993 graduate of St. Thomas Academy, where he was a member of the state-champion alpine ski team. While attending college, first at the University of Colorado and then at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Hinz returned to his high school to serve as the school’s assistant ski coach.

“He was very young to be a high school coach,” Jack Zahr, St. Thomas’ athletic director, told the Star Tribune, “But he didn’t just coach them, he mentored them.”

Hinz was also an avid water skier, and often skied near his Marine base in San Diego. Click here for more.

Hinz’s death comes a year after his father Donald Hinz was killed when his vintage fighter plane crashed at an air show in Wisconsin.

Hinz is survived by his wife Molly, their seven-month old daughter Abby, his mother Patricia, and three brothers, Ben, Kurt and Luke.

See the Star Tribune for more about Kelly Hinz.

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