Katherine Diaz, 22-Year-Old Surfer, Dead After Being Struck by Lightning While Training for Olympic Qualifier

by Jacklyn Krol

Katherine Diaz died after being struck by lightning. She was training at a local beach for an upcoming Olympic qualifier.

What Happened to Katherine Diaz

On March 19, the 22-year-old Olympic hopeful passed away. Diaz was surfing at El Tunco beach in Southwest El Salvador when the unthinkable took place. Diaz was surfing in the water at the time of the lightning strike.

Katherine’s uncle, Beto Diaz, witnessed her death. “Katherine came over to hug her [friend], as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard,” he told a local news outlet.

On March 21, she was laid to rest. Moreover, the vigil took place at the Church of God Manantiales de Vida Eterna, Playa El Tunco.

Un rayo ⚡️ de luz que Diós tiró, Se llevó a otra luz que inspiró a [email protected] con su forma de ser🙏🏽

Posted by Bamba Diaz on Sunday, March 21, 2021

Diaz was training for the upcoming International Surfing Association qualifiers from May 29 through June 6. The ISA 2021 Surf City El Salvador World Surfing Games will take place at the La Bocana and El Sunzal beaches. This is the last qualifying competition for the Tokyo Olympics. This year will mark the first time that surfing has been included.

Tributes to Katherine

Furthermore, countless surfing organizations, local federations, family, and friends paid tribute to Katherine Diaz.

Firstly, Katherine’s mother, Amelia, and sister Erika, mourned their tragic loss. The family says they are confident that “she is with God.” “Katherine, was a girl full of energy, with a free spirit who made each day feel worthwhile. Unfortunately, she left us. She died doing what she liked the most, on her favorite wave,” Erika told ElSalvador.com.

Additionally, the country’s surfing federation (FESASURF) issued a statement to CNN regarding her death. “Katherine was a girl very passionate about sports,” the statement read. “She was very motivated and happy for the event that was approaching.” The FEASURF will also host a “Paddle Out” ceremony in her memory.

Finally, the ISA said that she “embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special.” Diaz previously competed at the ISA World Surfing Games and World Junior Surfing Championships.