EL SALVADOR (NBC/AP) – Surfers in El Salvador are planning to hold a “paddle out” Tuesday to remember Katherine Díaz Hernández, one of the country’s top surfers who was killed last week by a lightning bolt while surfing.
The 22-year-old was training Friday at El Tunco beach when people on shore saw her get hit by lightning. They brought her ashore but could not revive her.
Díaz Hernández competed in international surfing events and was training for a qualifier event to make her country’s team for the upcoming Tokyo summer games, where surfing will be a medal sport for the first time.
The International Surfing Association tweeted a statement saying “It is with a heavy heart that the I-s-a has learned about the passing of El Salvador’s Katherine Díaz “
She “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.”
Diaz was training at El Tunco beach, about ten miles south of capital San Salvador, when she was struck by lightning just after entering the water, local media reported.
Díaz Hernández started surfing at the age of nine and was also well known in El Tunco for her skills as a chef.
Yamil Bukele, the president of the Salvadoran Sports Institute, wrote that “I greatly regret this death, and I join in the family’s pain.”