Three people who were critically injured in a lightning strike outside the White House have died, police confirmed to CBS News on Friday. One other person remained in hospital with life-threatening injuries.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wisconsin, died from their injuries after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park, located just outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
The Muellers’ niece, Michelle McNett, said in a statement that the couple were high school sweethearts on a trip to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. They leave behind five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“The family asks for privacy and prayers as they go through this sudden tragedy,” McNett said.
A 29-year-old man died Friday, a day after the strike, the Metropolitan Police Department said. He did not release any other information about the victim pending notification of next of kin.
One woman remains hospitalized, the police department said. Her identity was not immediately released.
The lightning strike was reported at 6:52 in The victims were near a statue of Andrew Jackson, Maggiolo said, adding that “it appears they were near a tree.”
Uniformed Secret Service agents and US Park Police officers who were in the area and witnessed the strike provided first aid to the victims, Maggiolo said.
“Their agents, their officers, saw this lightning strike and immediately started to help,” Maggiolo said.
It is not clear what the victims were doing at the time.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life following the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones, and we pray for those who are still fighting for their lives.”
A CBS News camera recording on the North Lawn of the White House around the time of the lightning caught the powerful rumble of thunder.
“The thunder was so loud, @gabrielle_ake and I jumped up in fear,” tweeted CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes. “‘That’s too close – we’re shutting down’ said photographer Ron Windham.”