Teen dies after being struck by lightning while hunting in Florida

A teenage girl who was struck by lightning while hunting with her father in the US state of Florida has died.

Baylee Holbrook, 16, and her father were both hit after lightning hit a tree on Tuesday, Putnam County officials said.

Her father lost consciousness but later woke up to find his daughter in a critical condition and not breathing.

Ms Holbrook was then rushed to hospital, where she died two days later on Thursday morning, officials said.

Her classmates gathered at Palatka Junior-Senior High School on Wednesday to pray for her and her family.

“She cares so much about everyone else,” Willie McKinnon, a family friend and pastor, told BBC’s US news partner CBS.

“She has a heart for her friends, people she loves, people she comes in contact with and she has a heart for people in general,” he said.

Ms Holbrook was a varsity cheerleader, and her friends said the teen loved to hunt and be outdoors.

Her high school cancelled all its athletic events on Thursday in mourning, while her classmates and friends gathered at a local church for collective prayer.

“We are in prayer for the Holbrook family and reflecting as well as sharing,” said Trinity Baptist Church in a post on social media.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has warned that there has been an increase in lightning strikes this week in the Palatka area, about 60 miles (96km) south of Jacksonville.

“Storms can come quickly and lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from any rainfall,” the office warned.

An average of 28 people in the US die each year from lightning strikes, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC noted that Florida, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina and Alabama have the most lightning deaths, and that 73% of deaths occur during the summer months.

Data also shows that one out of four lightning strike victims are young people aged 15 to 24, and that six out of 10 lightning deaths happen during an outdoor leisure activity.

BBC

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