A couple from Wisconsin died after the pair was struck by lightning near the White House in Washington, D.C. on Thursday evening, police said. Two others were also injured in the incident.
Authorities said James Mueller, 76, and Donna Meuller, 75, of Janesville, Wis., died from injuries caused by the lightning strike, which hit Lafayette Park in Northwest D.C. Two other individuals also suffered life-threatening injuries from the strike, UPI News reported.
“Apparent lightning strike Lafayette Park NW. #DCsBravest on scene in the process of treating and transporting 4 patients, all in critical condition,” DC Fire and EMS tweeted.
In a separate tweet, DC Fire and EMS said two adult males and two adult females were transported to area hospitals for treatment.
Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra tweeted a video clip from the White House live stream showing what might have been the lethal bolt of lightning that killed the Wisconsin couple.
“This appears to be video of the lightning strike outside the White House that critically injured 4 adults this afternoon. Experts said 6 separate lightning strikes hit the same exact area within a fraction of a second,” he wrote.
D.C. Fire and EMS Public Information Officer Vito Maggiolo said he could not provide details about the victims’ injuries.
“All we know for sure is that there was a lightning strike in their vicinity, in their immediate vicinity, and all four were injured,” Maggiolo said, according to NBC Washington.
David Root, a witness to the incident, said the bolt of lightning left him in a state of shock.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said, adding that he heard “a horrific boom”
“Was surreal,” Root added. “I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”
After a moment, Root said he noticed several people by a tree, but “they weren’t moving,” so he ran over to help.
“Several people ran over there, and I gave him chest compressions with another person. We alternated,” Root said.
“I just hope and pray that these people survive,” he added. “That’s the most important thought in my mind right now.”
The White House released the following statement in response to the deadly lightning strike:
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park. Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”
According to the National Weather Service, lightning is a “major cause of storm related deaths in the U.S.”
“A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart stopping) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage,” the service said.
National Weather Service data shows that the U.S. has averaged 43 reported lightning fatalities per year over the last 30 years.
“Only about 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90 percent with various degrees of disability,” the service added. “More recently, in the last 10 years (2009-2018), the U.S. has averaged 27 lightning fatalities.”
Last month, a U.S. Army soldier was killed and nine other soldiers were injured after a bolt of lightning struck the range where the soldiers were training at Fort Gordon, Ga.