Third person dies after lightning strike near White House

First responders attend the scene of a lightning strike near the White House in Washington, D.C., that killed a Wisconsin couple and critically injured two others on Thursday. Photo courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS/Twitter

Aug. 5 (UPI) — A third person has died after four people were hit by a lightning strike near the White House, police said Friday.

The death of the 29-year-old man, whose identity was not released, came after a Wisconsin couple died Thursday when a lightning strike touched down near the White House, WRC-TV reported. A fourth person was hospitalized in critical condition.

James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, died from their injuries, according to Washington Metro Police, who said they were sheltering under a tree when the lightning struck.

The couple’s niece told WRC-TV that the Muellers were high school sweethearts visiting Washington, D.C., for their 56th wedding anniversary.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” the White House said in a statement Friday.

“Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”

Upon arrival, first responders found two men and two women with life-threatening injuries.

“I was just in a state of shock,” witness David Root said according to WRC-TV. “I just couldn’t believe it. Was surreal.

“I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”

Authorities said uniformed officers of the Secret Service and Park Police witnessed the lightning strike and immediately began to render aid to the victims.

The relationships among the victims weren’t immediately known and the strike is being investigated.

Earlier Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning and flash flood warning for Washington.

The strike isn’t the first time that people have been injured in that manner in Lafayette Park, which is right across the street to the north of the White House. In June 2020, two National Guardsmen were hurt after a bolt touched down there. They survived.