A 16-year-old girl has died after she was struck by lightning while out hunting with her dad in Florida.
The tragedy took the life of Baylee Holbrook, 16, on Tuesday as she accompanied her father, Matthew Holbrook, in an area of Putnam County, which is near Gainesville.
The killer bolt of lightning is believed to have glanced off a tree before hitting the pair, with Mr Holbrook then recovering from unconsciousness to find his daughter unresponsive. He then called 911 and performed CPR.
A rescue team took Ms Holbrook to the HCA Florida Putnam Hospital, where staff were able to be stabilise her before she was moved to a trauma centre in critical condition.
While she was at the centre, students from her school and the local community gathered around a flagpole at Palatka Junior-Senior High School to pray for her recovery.
However, Ms Holbrook died on Thursday at around 9.32am, her church confirmed.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said they learned she “peacefully passed away” that morning surrounded by her family.
All sporting events at her school were cancelled on Thursday. Ms Holbrook was a varsity cheerleader and her team wore green ribbons, her favourite colour, in their game on Friday.
The outpouring of support in the small-town community has left family and friends touched.
“When one of our own is hurting, when one of our own is in need, this community, this county, this town rallies around people like I’ve never seen before,” a family spokesperson, Willie McKinnon, told WOKV.
“It was like a brother-sister relationship. We always hunt, fish, all kinds of stuff like that,” said Dylan Holbrook, Baylee’s cousin.
“She cares so much about everyone else. She has a heart for her friends, people she loves, people she comes in contact with, she has a heart for people in general,” Mr McKinnon said to WOKV.
Ms Holbrook’s father took to Facebook to write a tribute and said “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.”
The local sheriff’s office said that there had been a noticeable increase in lightning strikes in the area.
"We want to remind our community that the forecast is predicting several more days of increased rain, thunder and lightning," the department said. "Storms can come quickly and lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from any rainfall."
Fox Weather also reported severe weather over much of Florida, with numerous showers and storms developing up and down the peninsula.
Florida is one of the most active areas in the US for lightning, with 51 deaths there between 2013 and 2022 linked to the phenomenon.