Three people who were critically injured in a lightning strike outside the White House have died, police confirmed to CBS News Friday. One other remained hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wisconsin, died of their injuries after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park, located directly outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
The Muellers’ niece, Michelle McNett, said in a statement 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.
A 29-year-old man died on Friday, one day after the strike, the Metropolitan Police Department said. It did not release any other information about the victim pending notification of kin.
One woman remains in the hospital, the police department said. Her identity was not immediately released.
The lightning strike was reported at 6:52 p.m. The victims were near a statue of Andrew Jackson, Maggiolo said, adding that “it appeared they were in the vicinity of a tree.”
Uniformed Secret Service agents and U.S. Park Police officers who were in the area and witnessed the strike provided first aid to the victims, Maggiolo said.
“Their agents, their officers, witnessed this lightning strike and immediately began to render aid,” Maggiolo said.
It’s unclear exactly what the victims were doing at the time.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”
A CBS News camera that was recording on the White House North Lawn around the time of the lightning strike captured the powerful rumble of the thunder.
“The thunder was so loud, @gabrielle_ake and I jumped up in fright,” CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes tweeted. “‘That’s too close – we’re shutting down’ advised photographer Ron Windham.”