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Pilot writer's daughter killed

Religion columnist and daughter were traveling on I-5 when the van's left rear tire burst and sent the vehicle off the road.

June 07, 2007|By Kelly Strodl

Amy Strutzenberg was the kind of person who made things happen.

At 21, she earned a master's degree from Stanford University, and the Corona del Mar High School graduate was moving back to the area to get her MBA from UCLA.

Those plans ended when she died in a car accident on Sunday. She was 25.

The daughter of Newport Beach residents John and Cindy Trane Christeson, a religion columnist for the Daily Pilot, Strutzenberg was a passenger in the car her mother was driving on a trip from Strutzenberg's home in the Bay Area when the left rear tire of their van burst and sent the vehicle rolling off the road.

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Christeson, who has written "The Moral of the Story" column for the Pilot for about 10 years, was driving south on I-5 near Bakersfield when the accident happened, CHP authorities said Tuesday. She attempted to turn off the highway but instead lost control of the vehicle, Buttonwillow Highway Patrol spokesman Rick Jorgensen said. Strutzenberg was ejected from the van and died on impact, Jorgensen said.

It is unclear whether Strutzenberg was wearing a seatbelt, but she was seated in a reclining position that would have negated the restraint's protection, Jorgensen said.

Christeson was taken to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield and treated for minor to moderate injuries.

"Her heart is broken," husband John said. "She's … grateful that she was with Amy when it happened. Our challenge now is to not be sad. Every minute we spent with her was just joy."

Strutzenberg and her husband, Tyson, had just sold their home in San Mateo and were in the midst of moving back to Southern California to pursue graduate degrees from UCLA.

Cindy Christeson flew up over the weekend to make the trip south and spend some time with her youngest daughter.

John Christeson spent the past two days calling Amy's family, friends and co-workers to break the news.

Monday, he spoke with David Poe, managing director at Edgar, Dunn & Co., where Strutzenberg worked for the last three years as a financial consultant.

After they heard the news, the firm's staff gathered to grieve and reminisce about the good times with someone who personally invested in all of their lives.

"She was the kind of person who was always going out of her way to do things for people," Poe said.

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