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HMS Bounty: Woman killed during Sandy lived life 'to the fullest'

October 31, 2012 |  8:00 am

Claudene Christian, the woman killed on the HMS Bounty during Hurricane Sandy, was remembered as a generous friend with a keen sense of adventure.

“She really did live her life to the fullest," said friend Heather McDonald.

Christian 42, was one of 16 crew members of the HMS Bounty, a 180-foot, three-masted tall ship that was caught in the deadly storm. Christian, a former USC song girl, was not in a lifeboat when rescue crews found her unresponsive at 4:30 a.m. Monday, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill. She was taken by helicopter to a North Carolina hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

PHOTOS: Sandy's devastation on the East Coast

Fourteen others were plucked from lifeboats and rescued Monday by  Coast Guard rescue crews, who were still searching for the ship’s captain, Robin Walbridge, 63.

McDonald, a Woodland Hills resident and stand-up comedian, said Christian was immediately accepted as a member of the USC Gamma Phi Beta sorority when she rushed as a junior in 1990. “She was always happy for other people’s success,” she said. “I never remember her ever having conflicts with anyone.”

Through social media and occasional get-togethers over the years, McDonald said, she kept up with Christian as she started a cheerleader doll company, performed as a singer for a South Bay music group, Joe’s Band, and launched her latest adventure as a sailor. Although she was engaged about a decade ago, McDonald said, Christian never married and had no children.

VIDEOS: East Coast hit by deadly storm

McDonald said the sorority sisters were planning a 20-year anniversary reunion for USC’s homecoming game Nov. 10 and had hoped to see Christian there. Now, they might have  a memorial service.

"It’s going to be really sad,” McDonald said.

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-- Teresa Watanabe

Photo: The Bounty. Credit: Chicago Tribune

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