Christine M. Dimitroff, Coast Guard lieutenant and Deepwater Horizon investigator, dies

Christine M. Dimitroff, a Coast Guard lieutenant who was involved in follow-up investigations of those affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig disaster, died Aug. 12 from a brain tumor at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The Monkton resident was 38.

“Christine had a really good way with people and could talk to them and make connections,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Nicole D. Rodriguez, who had known her since 2016 when they worked together in New Orleans documenting the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Eleven people were killed and many others injured when the rig exploded April 20, 2010, resulting in the largest ever marine oil spill.

“She was very involved with the church and had a strong sense of service and helping people — she brought this to her work with Deepwater,” said Cmdr. Rodriguez, a Houston resident. “She was a very thoughtful person and just kind.”

“She was the best friend I’ve ever had, and the most intimate in my life. She was like a sister to me,” said Joanna Henson, who met Lt. Dimitroff when they both attended North Shore Church in Slidell, La. “We met through church and it must have been part of God’s plan and God-ordained.”

Christine Marie Lambros was born on Valentine’s Day at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the daughter of Nick Lambros and Gail Lambros, both educators. Born premature, she spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“She was a fighter even then,” said a sister, Valerie Lambros Coughanour of Mount Lebanon, Pa.

She grew up in Monkton. “She became a fierce soccer player, went on to travel and learn German and graduated in 1998 from Hereford High School,” her sister said.

In the early- to mid-1990s while she was in middle and high school, she volunteered as a junior counselor at Camp Honeybee at Hereford Middle School, a program for children with intellectual and physical disabilities. The camp’s director was Rita M. Phillips, a cousin and teacher.

“She was extremely dedicated in assisting campers with arts and crafts, cooking projects, and feeding those who needed help eating,” said Ms. Phillips, of Glen Arm. “Christine helped them with water play and helped them get into their bathing suits. She did anything I needed to assist me.

“She wanted to enrich and make it a positive experience for the children,” she said. “Christine had a very pure heart and a good spirit.”

After graduating in 2002 from Roanoke College in Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, she served a year with AmeriCorps building houses with Habitat for Humanity.

In 2005, she entered Officer’s Training School at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. and, in 2009, was stationed in San Diego, Calif., where she served aboard the USCG Cutter Chase, interdicting seaborne drug traffickers and assisting boaters in distress.

Her next duty station was the 8th Coast Guard District based in New Orleans, which oversees the Gulf of Mexico coastline from Florida to Mexico as well as waterways and rivers of Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee, according to Cmdr. Rodriguez. While in New Orleans, she inspected vessels, worked to prevent diving accidents and created collision prevention policy for harbor traffic.

“But she hit her stride when she was assigned to the district’s office of investigations,” her sister wrote in a biographical profile. “She took on the huge task of identifying and recognizing the heroic acts that saved lives.”

The process of the Coast Guard investigation of Deepwater Horizon was to document those deserving of medals, Cmdr. Rodriguez said.

“Christine had a strong sense of service and helping those people who were connected to Deepwater. She was meticulous, kind, thoughtful and cared about the welfare of others,” she said.

Lt. Dimitroff’s thoughtfulness and kindness extended to her Coast Guard colleagues.

“If someone was a new mother, she made sure there was a food train for them,” Cmdr. Rodriguez said. “She had a sense of service for others than herself, and the Coast Guard was a humanitarian place where she could give back.”

While on a church mission to put a new roof on a clinic in Haiti in March 2017, she experienced a seizure that led to two brain surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy.

“The night before her first surgery — and determined to complete her Deepwater work — she was working on her laptop,” her sister wrote.

In order to be close to specialized treatment and to her family, she was transferred to the Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region at Curtis Bay, and was still serving there at her death.

Lt. Dimitroff left her body to the Anatomy Gifts Registry, family members said.

“Christine definitely served others as long as she possibly could,” Ms. Henson said. “She loved to make sure that everyone was treated fairly and that everything was made right. She wanted people to see Christ when they looked at her.”

The Rev. John J. Brown, who recently retired from Hereford Baptist Church after 25 years, recalled Lt. Dimitroff’s visit to church this past Easter morning, when she received Communion.

“I saw her fight for her life and plan to go home to the Lord,” said Pastor Brown, a Parkton resident. “Church members would go and visit Christine. … I was there with her family when she died. It was a solemn moment, and I knew where her faith had taken her.”

She was an accomplished carpenter, and enjoyed collecting vintage cameras and using them to photograph flowers and landscapes.

A memorial service with military honors will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at her church, 9 Mount Carmel Road, Parkton.

In addition to her parents and sister, she is survived by another sister, Laura Lambros of Los Angeles; several aunts, uncles and nieces. An earlier marriage to Namon Dimitroff ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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