Surfer Katherine Diaz killed by lightning while training in El Salvador

Silhouettes are seen on a beach at sunset.
The sun sets at El Tunco beach in El Salvador on March 5, 2017.
(Marvin Recinos / AFP via Getty Images)

Katherine Diaz, a 22-year-old surfer from El Salvador, died Friday after being struck by lightning.

She was surfing near her home in the El Tunco neighborhood, about an hour south of San Salvador, in preparation for the International Surfing Assn.’s World Surf Games, a qualifying event for this summer’s Toyko Olympics.

The weather is said to have been clear that day, and a storm hadn’t been forecast.

The surfer’s uncle Beto Diaz was with her and confirmed that his niece had been struck by lightning.


“Katherine passed away instantly,” he told a news outlet in El Salvador.

The ISA tweeted: “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 int’l competition level, representing her country with pride at both the World Surfing Games and ISA World Jr Surfing Championship.”

The organization added: “We will never forget you.”

Diaz’s funeral was held Sunday. El Salvador’s surfing federation posted photos that showed, alongside her coffin, her surfboard and numerous photos of her surfing.

Surfers in El Salvador are planning a “paddle out” Tuesday in memory of Diaz, who started in the sport at age 9 and was also a chef who had a restaurant in El Tunco.

Her brother Jose Diaz, president of the El Salvador surfing federation, wrote on Instagram: “We will always carry you in our hearts. God decided to take you now. We already miss you. Love forever little sister.”