Katherine Diaz, the top surfer from El Salvador, was struck and killed by lightning while training near her home in El Tunco on Friday. The 22-year-old had just got in the water when the lightning struck. Medical responders tried to revive her, but Diaz passed away on the beach. According to several media reports, onlookers were shocked that clear skies suddenly changed into stormy weather.
A life taken too soon
Diaz was training in her home country in preparation for the International Surfing Association World Surfing Games that will take place there in May of this year.
The ISA posted a statement on their Facebook page in tribute to Diaz. They wrote:
It is with a heavy heart that the ISA has learned about the passing of El Salvador’s Katherine Diaz. Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport.
The Salvadoran Surf Association also released a statement about their former competitor. They wrote:
A great athlete who has represented our country has left us. See you soon, great warrior. El Salvador is in mourning.
The rarity of being struck by lightning
Statistically, being struck by lightning is a rare occurrence, but it varies between different countries.
In the United States, the National Weather Service estimates that there are 27 deaths and 243 injuries reported due to lightning. Approximately 100 people were killed by lightning storms in Northern India in June of last year.