WASHINGTON — Katherine Díaz Hernández, one of El Salvador's top surfers who hoped to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, died Friday after being struck by lightning while surfing.
The 22-year-old was training at El Tunco Beach, near her home in El Salvador, when she was struck by lightning shortly after entering the water to train, Olympic Channel reported. People nearby brought her ashore but could not revive her.
The Salvadoran Surf Federation confirmed the news in a post on social media.
The Spanish newspaper AS reported that the federation said "the sky was clear and it was an unforeseen storm that did not seem to carry much electrical intensity either."
Díaz Hernández was training for the International Surfing Association World Surf Games in El Salvador, which serves as a qualifier for the Tokyo games where surfing is set to make its Olympic debut.
ISA wrote on Facebook that Díaz Hernández "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," ISA added.
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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.