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Girl, 16, fighting for her life after being struck by lightning in freak hunting accident


A 16-year-old girl is fighting for her life after being struck by lightning while hunting with her dad.

Baylee Holbrook and her dad Matthew, who hunt alligators and other game, were both struck in the one-in-15,300 incident on Tuesday.

Officials said lightning glanced off a tree before hitting them while they were hunting in Putnam County, Florida.

After being hit, the dad awoke to find his daughter unconscious in a serious condition.

He performed CPR before she was taken to HCA Florida Putnam Hospital where she remains in a critical condition.

Members of the local community in Palatka have rallied to support Baylee. Her dad is less seriously injured and expected to recover.

Students, community members and deputies prayed for her recovery around the flagpole at Palatka Junior-Senior High School on Wednesday morning.

Dylan Holbrook, Baylee’s cousin, told News4Jax: “It was like a brother-sister relationship. We always hunt, fish, all kinds of stuff like that.”

Friend Kaitlyn Sanders said: “She always wanted to make sure that we went to bed with a Bible verse if we were having a bad day or she would tell me ‘Hey, it’s going to be OK. It’s OK to not be OK, but God’s got you’.”

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Pastor Willie McKinnon also told News4Jax: “We have been praying nonstop, dad has been praying nonstop.

“We’re really just praying for a miracle in this.”

McKinnon added that Baylee is dealing with trauma from the strike and said her family is waiting for test results to come back.

Meanwhile, dad Matthew is recovering and expected to be OK. He added on Facebook: “Pray for my baby. Every single person put your knees on the ground and pray.”

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said it wants “to remind our community that the forecast is predicted several more days of increased rain, thunder and lightning”.

“Storms can come quickly and lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from any rainfall,” they added.

Palatka is about 55 miles south of Jacksonville, Florida, and is home to 10,558 people.

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