16-year-old Florida girl struck by lightning while on hunting trip with father; Succumbs to injuries

Baylee Holbrook
Credits: Baylee Holbrook/Facebook

A 16-year-old girl has tragically lost her life after being struck by lightning while accompanying her father on a hunting trip in Florida on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, officials say.

Baylee Holbrook died on Thursday morning, two days after the lightning struck a tree, hitting both her and her father, Matthew Holbrook. The latter reportedly was passed out for a while, and after regaining consciousness, he found his daughter “not breathing.”

Baylee died on Thursday at 9:32 am

The father then called 911 and “began CPR as rescue personnel rushed to the scene.” Deputies arrived at the scene first and performed necessary measures to save the life of the teen. Baylee was then taken to HCA Florida Putnam Hospital in Palatka, where she was stabilized before being transferred to a trauma center. Throughout Wednesday, her condition remained critical. On Thursday at 9:32 am, Balyee “peacefully passed away” surrounded by her family, as per the Putnam County Sheriff’s office. 

‘See You at the Pole’

On the day before Baylee’s tragic death, on Wednesday, the students from the Putnam County School District came together in a heartfelt Facebook post. They said their prayers as part of “See You at the Pole” day, an annual national event where students lead and participate in communal prayer. “We stand with our community in support of Baylee,” the school district wrote in the post. Moreover, students at Palatka Jr-Sr High School wore green on Thursday to display their support for Baylee and her family during this difficult time.

On Wednesday night, hundreds gathered at the high school gymnasium for a heartfelt vigil dedicated to prayer for Bayle, according to First Coast News. “It’s a very rare occurrence, it truly is, it’s not something you see and hear a lot about,” Willie McKinnon, a family friend of Holbrook, told the outlet. “You see car wrecks, you see all these other things, but this is a rare one.”

On the night of the tragic passing, Trinity Baptist Church announced that “all athletic events for Palatka High School have been cancelled,” for the night on a Facebook post. They concluded, writing, “We are in prayer for the Holbrook family and reflecting as well as sharing.”

‘Baylee Faith Holbrook you are my best friend’

Balyee’s father penned an emotional tribute to her daughter in a Facebook post. “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,” he wrote on Thursday. “Handing you to your Heavenly Father today is something I thought I’d never do but something you’ve been preparing me to do all along. I have peace knowing your with HIM and you are able to change so many peoples lives.”