22-Year-Old Top Surfer Killed By Lightning While Training
By Dave Basner
March 22, 2021
An Olympic surfing hopeful was killed on Friday from a lightning strike at age 22. Katherine Diaz was in the water, training for a qualifying competition at a beach in El Salvador when she was struck.
Her uncle, Beto Diaz, who was in the water with her, told a local newspaper, "Katherine came over to hug her [friend], as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard.She, the friend, was thrown by the force of the lightning strike too, the board threw me back. Katherine died instantly."
Diaz was preparing for the 2021 Surf City El Salvador World Surfing Games on May 29, which is the final qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics, where surfing will be an Olympic sport for the first time.
In a statement, the International Surfing Association said, "Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport. She excelled at the international competition level, representing her country with pride at both the ISA World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Surfing Championship."
At Diaz's funeral on Sunday, her coffin was surrounded by flowers and her surfboard.