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16-year-old dies after lightning strike while hunting in Palatka

Baylee Holbrook, 16. (Provided Photo/Palatka Junior-Senior High School Facebook)

PALATKA, Fl. (WISH) — A 16-year-old girl died after she and her father were struck by lightning while hunting in Palatka, Florida, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a social media post on Thursday.

The department says Baylee Holbrook died peacefully surrounded by her family Thursday morning.

“Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers as they navigate a difficult road ahead of them and respect their privacy,” the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said in the post.

Authorities say Baylee was hunting with her father, Matthew Holbrook, on Tuesday when lightning struck a tree, hitting them. They say both Baylee and her father lost consciousness — when the father came to, he found Baylee not breathing and performed CPR until emergency responders arrived.

Flag pole ceremony to pray for Baylee Holbrook at Palatka Junior-Senior High School before she died Thursday morning (Provided Photo/Palatka Junior-Senior High School Facebook)

Deputies joined students, faculty, and community members on Wednesday at the Palatka Junior-Senior High School flag pole to pray. Baylee lost her fight the next morning.

In a Facebook post, the school says it has received an overwhelming amount of support and encouraged everyone to wear green on Friday to show continued support for Baylee and her family.

In a lengthy post on social media, Baylee’s father talked about the loss writing in part, “Baylee Faith Holbrook, you are my best friend. Our 16 years together, you have made me better. You’ve made me a better man. A better father. You’ve made me a better soldier for Jesus. People say we raised you, but I feel you raised everyone you’ve ever been in touch with.”

Tribute posts have been flooding social media from friends and family. Haylee was an avid hunter and had begun her own photography business, Baylee Holbrook Photography.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says there was an increase in lightning strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday in the area and warned the community that the forecast predicts several more days of increased rain, thunder, and lightning. Storms can come quickly, and lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from rainfall.