Three people who were critically injured by lightning strikes outside the White House have died, police confirmed to CBS News on Friday. Another remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wis., died of their injuries after a lightning strike in Lafayette Park, outside the White House building, the Metropolitan Police said.
The Muellers’ niece, Michelle McKnight, said in a statement that the couple, a high school sweetheart, were traveling to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. They left behind five children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“The family asks for privacy and prayers as they navigate this unexpected tragedy,” McKnight said.
On Friday, a day after the strike, a 29-year-old man died, the Metropolitan Police said. It did not release any other information about victims awaiting notification of relatives.
A woman remains in hospital, the police department said. Her identity was not immediately released.
The lightning strike reportedly occurred at 6:52 p.m. and the victims were near a statue of Andrew Jackson, Maggiolo said, adding that “it looks like they were near a tree.”
Maggiolo said uniformed Secret Service agents and U.S. Park Police who were in the area and witnessed the strike provided first aid to the victims.
“Their agents, their officers, witnessed the lightning strike and immediately began to provide assistance,” Maggiolo said.
It is unclear what the victim was doing at the time.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life following the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the bereaved families and our thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. Prayers for those who are still fighting for their lives.”
The rumble of thunder was captured by a CBS News camera recorded on the North Lawn of the White House when the lightning struck.
“The thunder was so loud that @gabrielle_ake and I jumped,” CBS News’ chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes tweeted. “‘It’s too close – we’re closing’ suggested photographer Ron Wyndham.”