16-year-old girl dies after lightning strike

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 12:44 PM EDT
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PALATKA, Fla. (WCJB/Gray News) - A high school student died on Thursday morning after being hospitalized due to lightning striking a tree while she was hunting with her father.

Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies said Baylee Holbrook, 16, died surrounded by her family at University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.

On Tuesday afternoon, lightning glanced off a tree and hit the father, knocking him unconscious. When he woke up, he noticed his 16-year-old daughter was not breathing.

Baylee Holbrook, 16, is in critical condition after being struck by lightning.
Baylee Holbrook, 16, is in critical condition after being struck by lightning.(Putnam County School District)

The father called 911 and began performing CPR until help arrived. The teen was rushed to HCA Florida Putnam Hospital where she was stabilized and taken to UF Health Shands in critical condition.

People gathered at a vigil Wednesday evening to offer prayers for the family, and many visited the hospital to show their support.

“As I got off of that elevator last night inside of Shands in Gainesville, I look and I see the hallways lined with people praying,” said family spokesperson Willie McKinnon. “This community, when one of their own is hurt, they come out in full force to support them.”

On Wednesday, for “See You at the Pole” day, Palatka Junior-Senior High School students prayed for their classmate. Officials with the school asked students and faculty to wear green Thursday in support of Baylee.