Former USC Song Girl Claudene Christian died Monday when the HMS Bounty sank off the coast of North Carolina because of Hurricane Sandy.
Christian, 42, was a crew member on the ship, which appeared in several films, including Mutiny on the Bounty and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, according to CNN.
Christian was a Song Girl in the 1990s and graduated in 1992. She founded a business that makes dolls that look like cheerleaders, the Cheerleader Doll Company, in 1988.
She joined the Bounty’s crew in May. On her Facebook page, she said she joined the crew because she was a descendant of Fletcher Christian, the crewmember who led the mutiny against William Bligh on the original HMS Bounty in 1789, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The ship was en route to St. Petersburg, Fla. from London, Conn. when Hurricane Sandy hit, KTLA reported. The ship reportedly lost power Sunday night and called for the U.S. Coast Guard’s assistance. By 4:30 a.m. Monday, the crew began abandoning ship; Coast Guard rescue helicopters arrived about two hours later, the Times reported.
Fourteen of the 16 crew members were rescued from lifeboats, but Christian was found unresponsive. Her aunt, Patricia Saulsberry, told KFSM that Christian was in the water for nine or 10 hours before rescuers found her. As of Tuesday night, Coast Guard was still searching for the ship’s captain, Robin Walbridge, 63, according to the Times.
“The USC Song Girl Family is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our beautiful former Song Girls, Claudene Christian,” the Song Girls coaches said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to her parents and family. As a USC Song Girl, Claudene will always be remembered for her kindness, enthusiasm and charismatic personality. Claudene will be missed by all who knew and loved her.”