Surfer Katherine Diaz Dead at 22 After Being Struck by Lightning

Katherine Diaz, a 22-year-old surfer who was reportedly preparing for the ISA World Surfing Games (a qualifier for the Olympics), died after being struck by lightning.

By Elyse Dupre Mar 22, 2021 4:03 PMTags

Katherine Diaz, a 22-year-old surfer from El Salvador, has died. 

The International Surfing Association confirmed her passing in a statement shared to Facebook on March 20.

"It is with a heavy heart that the ISA has learned about the passing of El Salvador's Katherine Diaz," it read. "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. 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."

The National Institute of Sports of El Salvador paid tribute to the late athlete, as well. "We offer a prayer for the eternal rest of her soul," a statement posted to Facebook read, "and we express our most sincere condolences to her family."

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According to The Guardian, Diaz was struck by lightning while training at a beach near her home in El Tunco on March 19. The newspaper reported emergency services were called to the scene but were unable to revive her.

Per, citing the Salvadoran Surf Federation, "the sky was clear and it was an unforeseen storm that did not seem to carry much electrical intensity either."


According to The Guardian, Diaz was preparing for the May ISA World Surfing Games—a qualifier for this year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

In addition to being a surfer, Diaz was a chef, the Associated Press reported, who had opened her own business in El Tunco.