Olympic-hopeful surfer, 22, killed in freak lightning tragedy

·Sports Editor
·2-min read
Katherine Diaz Hernandez, pictured here before her tragic death.
Katherine Diaz Hernandez was struck by lightning while surfing. Images: Instagram

A 22-year-old surfer with hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics has died after being struck by lightning on a beach in El Salvador.

Katherine Diaz Hernandez was training near her home at the Pacific coast beach of El Tunco on Friday when she was hit by lightning.

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According to local media, the tragedy occurred around 5pm when a series of electrical storms struck the south and east of El Salvador.

Diaz was reportedly hit by the electric discharge when she was entering the water.

Onlookers reportedly rushed to the young surfer's aid before medical personnel arrived and transferred her to hospital.

However she couldn't be revived, leaving the surfing community in shock.

Diaz is the sister of José 'Bamba' Díaz, a former professional surfer, judge and current president of the Salvadoran Surf Federation.

Surfing world mourns death of Katherine Diaz Hernandez

Yamil Bukele, president of the government's Salvadoran Sports Institute, posted a message expressing condolences to her family.

"I just found out about the death of Salvadoran surfer Katherine Díaz," Bukele said.

"I am very sorry for this death and I join the pain that overwhelms her family.

“Our solidarity with 'el Bamba’ and the surf family. Peace for your soul."

Katherine Diaz Hernandez, pictured here in action in the surf.
Katherine Diaz Hernandez had hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Olympics. Image: Instagram

Jaime Delgado, the former president of the Salvadoran Surf Federation, posted on Facebook: “You enjoyed your dream and you started doing what you liked the most.

"Those of us who knew you know that you leave a great emptiness in our hearts. A hug to heaven, ‘Katu’, Katherine Díaz”.

Diaz had been training for a global tournament, set to be held in El Salvador, that serves as a qualifying even for this year's Summer Olympic Games.

She was sitting third in the National Surfing Circuit, and also competed in the 2020 Alas Tour.

Diaz also worked as a chef and had opened her own business in El Tunco.

with AAP

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