The International Surfing Association – the world’s governing body for surfing – released a statement on Saturday after the 22-year-old died, saying she “embodied the joy and energy that makes surfing so special and so dear to all ”.
“She has excelled at the level of international competition, representing her country with pride at the ISA World Surfing Games and the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship,” said the organization. “We extend our deepest condolences to Katherine’s family, the surfers of El Salvador and all of the international surfing community whose lives she touched. ”
The surfer was struck after entering the water on Friday at El Tunico beach, about 10 miles from the capital of San Salvador, according to local media. Her uncle Beto Díaz, who is also a surf coach, told ElSalvador.com that he went with her and that she was meeting a friend to train with.
“Katherine walked over to give her friend a hug, and as soon as she hugged her you heard the lightning,” he said on the exit. “His friend flew from the force of the lightning beam and he knocked over my surfboard. Katherine died instantly. ”
Diaz was preparing for the ISA World Surfing Games, which will be held from May 29 to June 6 on the beaches of La Bocana and El Sunzal in El Salvador. The top seven women in the event who have yet to qualify will earn a spot at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, where the sport will make its official Olympic debut.
Jose Diaz, her brother, posted a photo with her on Instagram, saying, “You will be in our hearts forever. God has decided to take you now. We miss you already. ”
A funeral for Diaz took place over the weekend and photos show her casket surrounded by trophies and a surfboard. Rosa Amelia Hernández, Diaz’s mother, told ElSalvador.com that although her daughter wanted to be cremated, they buried her across the ocean where she died.
“I couldn’t cremate her remains, but I made sure she would rest facing the sea, because the sea was her life,” Hernandez said.
Yamil Bukele, president of the Salvadoran Sports Institute and brother of the country’s president, mourned his loss on Twitter.
“It’s a great loss for our sport”, Bukele tweeted. “All our solidarity for our family of surfers. I am with you in your pain. ”