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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

February 3, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Micron CEO killed in plane crash

Steve Appleton, chairman and chief executive of Boise-based tech giant Micron Technology, died this morning in a plane crash in Boise.

The tragedy will resonate across Idaho, where Micron remains a flagship company and one of the largest employers despite its recent challenges making money in the cyclical, hypercompetitive memory chip business.

Micron disclosed the incident in a statement on its website, saying it’s “deeply saddened” to announce the accident. Appleton was 51.

appleton1.jpg

“Our hearts go out to his wife, Dalynn, his children and his family during this tragic time,” the company said. “Steve’s passion and energy left an indelible mark on Micron, the Idaho community and the technology industry at large.”

More information will be provided later today, the company said.

The Idaho Statesman reported that the plane crashed at the Boise Airport at around 9 a.m. It was a Lancair experimental plane — a single-engine prop plane — that “went down between two runways” after dispatchers received reports of a small plane on fire, the paper reported.

Appleton survived a 2004 crash of an aerobatic plane near Boise, the paper noted.

Trading in Micron stock was halted.

Appleton graduated from Boise State University in 1982 and joined Micron in 1983. He advanced through production management, becoming president of manufacturing in 1991, president of the company in 1994 and chief executive in 2007.

Micron started in 1978 and is now one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies, producing a range of memory products and semiconductor systems used in computers and mobile devices. Its consumer brands include Lexar and Crucial.

The company had sales of $8.7 billion last year and has more than 20,000 employees in Boise and at facilities across North America and in Asia, Europe and Israel.

Just last week, on Jan. 26, Micron announced that its president and chief operating officer, Mark Durcan, would retire at the end of August and be replaced by Mark Adams, currently president of worldwide sales at the company.

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