Officials in El Salvador are reporting that a 22-year-old Olympic hopeful has died after she was struck by lightning why training for a upcoming qualifying event.
The incident occurred at El Tunco beach in southwest El Salvador on Friday around 4:50 p.m. local time.
Katherine Diaz’ uncle told reporters that he, Katherine and a friend were all in the water when the weather quickly changed and the incident occurred.
“Katherine came over to hug her [friend], as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard,” Diaz’s uncle, Beto Diaz.
“She, the friend, was thrown by the force of the lightning strike too, the board threw me back. Katherine died instantly,” Diaz continued.
Katherine was rushed to an area hospital, however, the force of the strike had already taken it’s toll on her.
The International Surfing Association released a statement on their Facebook page about Katherine’s death saying:
“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.”
The International Surfing Association (ISA) 2021 Surf City El Salvador World Surfing Games are expected to be held from May 29 to June 6 at both La Bocana and El Sunzal beach. It will be the final qualifying tournament for Tokyo 2020.
This is the first year surfing will be included in the Olympics.