3 killed in lightning strike near White House

3 killed in lightning strike near White House

The incident happened around 7:00 p.m. Thursday.

Washington:

Three people, including an elderly couple celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary, were pronounced dead on Friday after being struck by lightning in a park near the White House.

Lightning struck Lafayette Square, a small park across from the White House, shortly before 7:00 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Thursday, leaving two men and two women with “severe life-threatening injuries”, according to a statement from the Washington agency. fire and emergency service.

All of the victims were taken to local hospitals, but on Friday morning the Metropolitan Police confirmed that two of them – Donna Mueller, 75, and James Mueller, 76, of Janesville, Wisconsin – had been pronounced dead .

The couple were high school sweethearts and were in the capital to mark their wedding anniversary, their niece Michelle McNett told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Later Friday, a third victim, a 29-year-old man, also died of his injuries, police said.

The other adult remains in critical condition.

A White House spokeswoman said the Biden administration was “saddened by the tragic loss of life.”

“We pray for those who are still fighting for their lives,” press officer Karine Jean-Pierre added in a statement.

US Secret Service and Park Police rushed to help the four people after witnessing the strike, firefighters and emergency services, emergency services spokesman Vito Maggiolo said in a statement. a statement posted on social media.

The victims had apparently taken refuge under one of the trees in the park.

“Trees are not safe places,” Maggiolo told The Washington Post. “Anyone who goes to seek shelter under a tree, it’s a very dangerous place.”

Photos posted by the department on social media showed several ambulances and at least one fire truck with flashing lights working at the scene.

Witness David Root told NBC he heard a “horrifying boom”.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was surreal. I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life.”

He said he also took shelter under a tree when he saw lightning strike the park.

People “were not moving”, he said, so he and others ran to help.

The strike was part of a severe thunderstorm that hit the US capital on Thursday evening.

According to the US Weather Service, lightning has killed an average of 27 people a year in the United States over the past decade.

Only about 10% of people struck by lightning are killed – usually by cardiac arrest – but many end up with lasting disability, including neurological damage.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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