Micron's chief executive officer and chairman of the board, Steve Appleton, died earlier today in a plane crash in Boise, Idaho.
Appleton, who was 51, was flying an experimental fixed-wing plane at the time of the accident.
"Steve's passion and energy left an indelible mark on Micron, the Idaho community and the technology industry at large," the company said in a statement.
Micron's board of directors plans on meeting over the weekend to discuss Appleton's successor, the company said. In the interim, Micron President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Durcan will take on the CEO's responsibilities.
"Steve was a true friend who will be dearly missed by all of us," Durcan said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and our team members as we all grieve this tragic loss."
Appleton had been with Micron since 1983, and previously served as a production manager, director of manufacturing, vice president of manufacturing, and chief operating officer.
Micron, based in Boise, is the largest memory chip manufacturer in the U.S., and one of the largest in the world. The company has plants in Idaho, Utah, and Virginia, and runs a joint manufacturing venture with Intel. Perhaps not a household name among consumers, it's responsible for brands like Lexar and Crucial.
Appleton began his career there at the age of 22, working the overnight shift in the company's factory, and eventually climbed the ranks to become Micron's CEO in 1994 at the age of 34. On the side, he was a stunt pilot, triathlete, and tennis player.
Appleton is survived by his wife and family.
In a research note, David Wong, a Wells Fargo analyst, said that although Appleton played "a huge part in building Micron into the major company it is today," the company possessed "great" management depth. He did not expect that Appleton's death would change Micron's ability to effectively run its business in the future.
Updated at 4:39 p.m. PT with details on Appleton's temporary replacement.