2 dead, 2 in critical condition after lightning strike near the White House

Written by Javed Iqbal

Two people who were critically injured in a lightning strike outside the White House have died, police confirmed to CBS News on Friday. Two others remained hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wis., died from their injuries after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park, which is just outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

Mueller’s niece, Michelle McNett, said in a statement that the couple were high school sweethearts who were 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 navigate through this sudden tragedy,” McNett said.

The other two people, a man and a woman, were in critical condition, the police said. Their identities were not immediately released.

The lightning strike was reported at 18.52. The victims were near a statue of Andrew Jackson, Maggiolo said, adding that “it looked like they were near a tree.”

Uniformed Secret Service agents and US Park Police officers who were in the area and saw the strike administered first aid to the victims, Maggiolo said.

“Their agents, their officers, saw this lightning strike and immediately began rendering aid,” Maggiolo said.

It is unclear exactly 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 filming on the White House North Lawn around the time of the lightning strike captured the powerful rumble of thunder.

“The thunder was so loud that @gabrielle_ake and I jumped up in fright,” tweeted CBS News White House chief Nancy Cordes. “‘It’s too close – we’re shutting down,’ advised photographer Ron Windham.”

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Javed Iqbal

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