BAKER — A Kentucky man who was camping with his family has died after he was struck by lightning outside his tent Monday at Wilderness Landing Campground off Corduroy Road.

According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Jeremy Harper, 35, of Cloverport was camping with eight family members, including six children ranging from 15 months to 13 years old. Officials believe lightning hit a tree near him while he was standing outside his tent, knocking him to the ground.

No one else in the group was injured, a press release said. Harper died about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview.

John Purdy, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, said there were scattered showers over the Panhandle around the time of the lightning strike.

“One storm popped up right over the campground, which is near the Blackwater River,” Purdy said. “We counted about 12 lightning strikes in that area in a 20-minute period.”

According to the Sheriff's Office's call history report, deputies received a call about the incident about 7:18 p.m. First responders had to travel through heavy rain and standing water on the road to make it to the campsite. Deputies had to escort the ambulance out of the area because Corduroy Road is so narrow.

The press release said chaplains Larry Carter and Dennis Walker rushed to the scene and helped comfort Harper’s family and get them to the hospital.

Harper is the fifth person to die from a lightning strike in the United States this year. Two other fatalities took place in Florida in May and June. Two people died in Colorado in May and one in Texas earlier this month.

“This is the worst time of the year for lightning fatalities,” Purdy said. “For one thing, with kids out of school and people taking vacations, there are just more people enjoying outdoor activities. At the same time, storms like the one that caused this lightning strike are more likely to pop up without warning in the summer.

"In the winter, we can see squall lines with lightning moving in the area and can get advanced warning.”

Purdy said people should use caution when caught in an unexpected thunderstorm.

“Never stand near the highest point, like a tree,” he said. “If at all possible, get inside a building. But if you can’t, your car is a good alternative.”

This year has been particularly difficult for visitors from Kentucky. In April, a 17-year-old girl visiting with her softball team from Louisville was bitten by a shark, requiring more than 100 stitches.

Later that month, a 49-year-old man driving back to Kentucky after spending spring break in the area was killed in a head-on collision on Antioch Road near Crestview.