2 die after apparent lightning strike near White House: Police – NBC4 Washington

Two of the four people apparently struck by lightning near the White House on Thursday have died, Washington DC police said.

James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, were a couple from Janesville, Wisconsin, police said.

Four people were left in critical condition after a flash of light and a boom sounded in northwest DC’s Lafayette Park as severe thunderstorms hit the region, fire officials said.

DC Police are expected to release more information about the condition of the two other victims later Friday.

Four people have suffered life-threatening injuries after they were apparently struck by lightning near the White House in Washington, DC, on Thursday night, firefighters said.

US Secret Service and US park officers rushed to help the Muellers and the other man and woman when they saw the lightning strike, DC Fire and EMS Public Information Officer Vito Maggiolo said earlier.

The victims were located in Lafayette Square across from the White House, and they were near the central statue of former President Andrew Jackson, as well as a tree, Maggiolo said.

Doctors took the women and men to hospitals in the area. Maggiolo said he could not comment on their exact injuries.

“The only thing we know for sure is that there was a lightning strike near them, in their immediate vicinity, and all four of them were injured,” Maggiolo said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 444 people died from lightning strikes between 2006 and 2021. Deaths from lightning strikes are most likely in the summer and most often occur in people who participate in recreation or work outdoors.

“I was just in a state of shock,” said witness David Root. “I just couldn’t believe it. Was surreal. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life.”

He described hearing “a horrific thump”.

He said he goes with a group to Lafayette Square every night to show support for the people of Ukraine. When it started to rain, he took cover under a tree until he saw lightning strike the park.

Without thinking, he sprang into action to save a man’s life.

“We saw several people next to a tree, and they weren’t moving, so I ran over to try and help,” Root said. “Several people ran there and I gave him chest compressions with another person. We alternated.”

“We were standing there, and suddenly there was a horrible noise,” said witness Anna Mackiewicz, who is visiting from Poland. “We started screaming and my husband said, ‘Let’s just run away.’ I saw out of the corner of my eye, I saw, you know, the light.”

“I hope and pray that these people survive,” Root said. “That’s the most important thought in my head right now.”

Thunderstorms moved through DC and surrounding areas around 6:30 p.m. Severe weather drenched parts of the region after a blistering day with temperatures in the mid-90s and heat indices over 100.

The National Weather Service says everyone should go inside if they hear thunder.

“Avoid open areas. Don’t be the tallest object in the area,” says an NWS safety brochure. “Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an area.”

Stay tuned to News4 for updates on this evolving story

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