Community mourns lifeguard, surfer killed in crash

LA JOLLA, Calif. – San Diego's surfing community is mourning the death of a 27-year-old lifeguard and professional surfer who was killed in a car crash over the weekend.

Chloe Buckley, who grew up in and guarded the beaches of La Jolla, died early Saturday in a crash on state Route 52.

Buckley's friends said she rarely spoke about her rescue work bringing a young drowning victim back to life and wouldn’t even mention she was a pro surfer. Pete Buckley said his daughter was simply too fired up to meet the person standing in front of her.

“She’s always looked out for the underdog and the little guy. That’s Chloe,” Pete Buckley said.

After the news of her death spread through her community and the lifeguard ranks, Buckley’s army of friends gathered at 7 a.m. trying to repay her kindness, led by San Diego’s lifeguard chief.

“I got 300 people that want to pay respect to this girl,” Pete Buckley said.

From her days working at Mitch’s Surf Shop in Solana Beach, Buckley spread a contagious joy through colleagues and into the surf lineup.

“She had a big impact on my life at a time when I really needed it," said Buckley's close friend Tommy Watson. "It kept me youthful and I can’t thank her enough."

When Buckley found her calling protecting swimmers from the towers of San Diego’s beaches, her father couldn’t have been prouder.

“It’s fitting for Chloe to be involved with people who care for other people the way she did,” Pete Buckley said.

Buckley’s life will be celebrated July 28 at 10 a.m. at her home break of Windansea.

“I have one last party I can give,” Pete Buckley said. “I won’t ever walk her down the aisle. I’ll never bounce her baby on my knee. So, we’re going for it. Anybody and everybody who wants to come and celebrate my daughter’s life is welcome.”

A GoFundMe in Buckley’s name raised more than $25,000 as of Thursday.