VIAN, Okla. - A Vian woman who was working as a deckhand aboard the HMS Bounty before it sank is among the causalities of Hurricane Sandy.
The body of 42-year-old Claudene Christian was recovered on Monday evening.
On early Monday, 14 of the ship's crew members abandoned the ship after it began taking on water. All of them were rescued. Another crew member was rescued later.
The ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, of St. Petersburg, Florida, is still missing.
Christian's parents, also of Vian, flew to North Carolina to claim the body.
Christian's aunt, Patricia Saulsberry, said her niece was adventurous.
"She lived quite a full life and was always ready for another adventure," said Saulsberry.
Christian's adventures took her from Alaska, where she grew up and competed in beauty pageants, to California, where she attended college and started a cheerleading doll business.
A couple of years ago, Christian and her parents moved to Vian to be close to other family members.
She volunteered briefly at the Sequoyah County Sheriff's office.
"She was just a caring-hearted person, always wanted to help somebody else," said Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart.
Lockhart said Christian also gave the staff some of the dolls she made.
Lockhart set up a memorial fund for Christian and her family at Armstrong Bank.
"She would just throw herself in full force into anything," said Saulsberry.
Christian became interested in ships when two of them docked in Muskogee last year. That interest eventually turned into a job this year aboard the Bounty.
Christian wrote and posted pictures about her adventures aboard the Bounty on her Twitter account.
"And she just loved the boats and the ocean and doing what she was doing," said Saulsberry.
Saulsberry worried about Christian whenever storms developed in the Atlantic, but her niece would always reassure the family everything was fine.
"She said 'Don't worry about me. I'm happier than I've been,'" said Saulsberry.
Saulsberry said the family thought the ship was docked when Hurricane Sandy came churning through, but her niece called and told the family the ship was at sea and taking on water.
'She said 'I just want to tell you I love you and I love being on the Bounty and the family here that I've made, and I just love this boat,'" said Saulsberry.
Though her niece is gone, Saulsberry said the family will focus on preserving her legacy.
"We're all going to miss her, but we're not going to let her legacy die. We're going to keep her in our hearts and minds," said Saulsberry.
To donate to the Claudene Christian Memorial Fund, visit any Armstrong Bank.
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