22-year-old surfer killed by lightning while training for Olympics

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One of El Salvador’s most talented surfers, Katherine Diaz, has passed away after being struck by lightning. She was just 22.

Diaz was training near her El Tunco home on Friday, March 19, when the freak accident occurred. After the lightning struck, emergency medical technicians attempted to save Diaz, who was preparing for the Olympic debut of surfing at this summer’s Olympic games in Tokyo, but she passed away following the incident, the Guardian reported.

According to local media, the lightning was a sudden surprise during what initially appeared to be a clear day. 

“The sky was clear and it was an unforeseen storm that did not seem to carry much electrical intensity either,” a Spanish newspaper reported. 

Diaz was in the water alongside her uncle and her friend when she was struck. 

“Katherine approached to hug her, as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard. She, the friend, was thrown by the force of the lightning strike too,” Diaz’s uncle told a local news outlet.  

Various surf organizations have taken to social media to pay tribute to Diaz. 

“We raise a prayer for the eternal rest of her soul and we express our most sincere condolences to her family,” wrote El Salvador’s National Institute for Sport in a statement. 

“A great athlete who has represented our country has left us,” wrote the Salvadoran Surf Federation in one such post, according to the Guardian. “See you soon, great warrior. El Salvador is in mourning.”

“It is with a heavy heart that the ISA has learned about the passing of El Salvador’s Katherine Diaz,” the International Surfing Association wrote in a Facebook post. “Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport … We send our heartfelt condolences to Katherine’s family, the surfers of El Salvador, and to all those in the international surfing community whose lives she touched. We will never forget you.”

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