San Diego

Lifeguard, Surfing Communities Mourn Loss of One of Their Own

Friends, family and former coworkers are mourning the loss of a San Diego lifeguard killed in a fiery crash over the weekend.

Family members say Chloe Buckley was driving on State Route 52 Saturday morning when she hit the center divider and her SUV burst into flames.

Buckley was a lifeguard at Mission Beach and before that was a professional surfer on the ASP World Tour competing in events around the globe.

Chloe's father, Peter Buckley, described her as "the most giving angel" he's ever encountered.

"I never heard her brag or say a bad word about a soul," Peter said. "She's just that person and we were blessed. I can't say that enough. We were blessed."

The Buckley family has been on the receiving end of a constant stream of support since Saturday. Peter said just the other day he had 40 lifeguards and firefighters in his home.

They parked their rigs on the street and brought candles and even a grief counselor.

That and countless other thoughtful deeds prove Peter right when he says his daughter was the kind of person who had a thousand best friends and handled it all so seamlessly.

"If anyone is hurting they can reach out to any of us and we can hurt together," Peter said. "No one has to be alone. She would not want anyone alone and hurting."

Chloe also once worked at Mitch’s Surf Shop in Solana Beach where she was known for her spunk and free spirit.

Her former coworkers said she brought the shop’s Instagram page to life by dressing up in funny costumes and even developed an alter ego that existed only on the shop’s social media feed.

“She would do anything,” said Billy Watson, an employee at Mitch’s. “She would put on funny costumes and was always positive, you know, and kind of taught everyone how to live a full life, to go out and do what you like and love."

Employees at Mitch’s said Chloe developed a persona known as “Finstagirl” and would often be recognized by people on the street. She was also a spokesperson and model for several surfing clothing lines and companies.

"She had several different looks. Every time you took a picture of her it would be like a different person or a different spirit in there, you know? That's what was so cool about her.”

Her lifeguard family appreciated her jovial mood, too, but also recognized her as a hard-working and dedicated lifeguard at one of the county’s busiest beaches.

The Lifeguard of San Diego Facebook page posted pictures of Chloe on Monday along with this message:

"This weekend we lost a sister.

We are humbled to call her one of our own and saddened that she was taken so soon.

Chloe’s unmatched zest for life, infectious smile and beaming positive attitude are attributes that we should all aspire to have. Chloe taught us to be kind, thoughtful, and true to oneself. She left a great mark on the lifeguard service, one that will be hard to match and never forgotten.

Our hearts go out deeply to the family.

Chloe, you will be severely missed."

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Chloe's honor.

Friends and family have planned a celebration of life for Chloe at Windansea Beach on July 28 to say goodbye.

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