A former Alaskan was recovered Monday but subsequently died after a replica of the tall ship HMS Bounty sank in rough seas off the coast of North Carolina. Fourteen of 16 crew members have been rescued alive by the U.S. Coast Guard, but one is still missing.
According to the Coast Guard, 42-year-old Claudene Christian was unresponsive when she was recovered by helicopter about 90 miles south of Hatteras, N.C. and flown to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, N.C. A hospital spokesperson says that Christian subsequently passed away.
Friends tell Channel 2 that Christian was a graduate of West High School and was Alaska's National Teenager in 1987.
"She was just so vibrant and enthusiastic, and full of life" said Nancy Postishek, Director of the Alaska National Teenager Scholarship Organization.
Her Facebook page describes her as a descendant of Fletcher Christian, the leader of the 1789 mutiny on the original British Royal Navy vessel.
The Associated Press says the ship, a replica that has appeared in at least two Hollywood films, began taking on water early Monday morning. The crew had to abandon it about 5 a.m. Monday in the rough waters churned up by Hurricane Sandy.
Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randy Haba helped rescue crew members from a lifeboat and also helped save a crew member floating alone in the water. He says the waters were some of the biggest seas he has ever been in.
Searchers are still looking for Robin Walbridge, 63. Both Christian and Walbridge were earlier described as wearing survival suits capable of protecting them from the cold water for up to 15 hours.
Contact Chris Klint