Even as a little girl, Chloe Buckley was drawn to the ocean. The San Diego native grew up surfing and eventually traveled the world for love of the sport. Landed on the pro circuit for a little bit, too.
As her “heartbroken” father said Thursday, July 5, “If there ever was a mermaid on this earth, it was her.”
The 27-year-old surfer, who was starting her second summer as a city lifeguard, was killed in a solo car crash on state Route 52 early Saturday morning June 30. Her death has left family and friends stunned and heartbroken.
“Chloe was awesome,” said Bill Watson, who worked for a stretch with Buckley at the Solana Beach location of Mitch’s Surf Shop. “She was just a breath of fresh air at Mitch’s. Very energetic, fun.”
She surfed for the Canyon Crest Academy High School team (graduating from the school in 2008), and also took to the water for MiraCosta College’s team, her father said.
Pete Buckley said his daughter became a globetrotting surfer, from Central America to Australia and elsewhere.
The World Surf League website lists her as ranked 76th in the women’s qualifying series in 2011, and shows she placed 5th in a competition in Peru that year.
In its January issue, La Jolla Lifestyle included Buckley in a feature on some of the area’s surfing talents.
Buckley told the publication that her passion for surfing “started young with a love for the beach and waves. Body surfing turns to boogie boarding, turns to surfing, turns to my favorite thing: sharing it with my brother and spending time with my father.”
On Thursday, July 5, Buckley’s father said his daughter and son, 25-year-old Jack Buckley, “are peas from the same pod, and no tighter sibling relationship will you find.”
She was gearing up for another summer as a lifeguard — a job that kept her on the beach, in the water and helping people — when she was killed.
The crash happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. June 30. She was in a 2002 Toyota 4Runner and headed westbound on state Route 52 when she lost control of the vehicle near Convoy Street.
The SUV rolled, flipping over the center divide, landing in the eastbound lanes and catching fire. Buckley died at the scene.
A paddleout in her honor at Windansea is set for 10 a.m. July 28. An official with Windansea Surf Club, which set up the event, said he expected the turnout to be so high, he was considering adding shuttles. (Information about the event will be posted on the group’s Facebook page.)
Buckley’s father said the response from people who knew his daughter has been heartening, and the support from the city lifeguards “is almost surreal how much they have taken care of us.”
A Facebook page run by the lifeguard union said her “unmatched zest for life, infectious smile and beaming positive attitude are attributes that we should all aspire to have.”
And Buckley’s father called her “a shining example of how to really live, the definition of life well lived.”
“She did so much,” Pete Buckley said. “She was so impactful. And so loved.”
--Teri Figueroa is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune