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

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

The Metropolitan Police Department said James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wisconsin, died after being struck by lightning in Lafayette Park, just outside the White House complex.

Mueller’s niece, Michelle McNett, said in a statement that the couple were high schoolers traveling to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. He leaves behind five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“The family asks for privacy and prayers as they go through this sudden tragedy,” McNett said.

The condition of two other people, a man and a woman, is critical, the police department said. His identity was not immediately released.

Magiolo said the lightning was reported at 6:52 p.m. The victims were near a statue of Andrew Jackson, adding, “It appears they were around a tree.”

Magiolo said uniformed Secret Service agents and US Park Police officers who were in the area overseeing the attack provided first aid to the victims.

“His agents, his officers saw this incident of lightning and immediately began to provide assistance,” Magiolo said.

It is not clear what the victims were doing at the time.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Lafayette Park after the lightning struck,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Our hearts are with the families who have 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 when the lightning struck captured the powerful rumble of thunder.

CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes tweeted, “The thunder was so strong, @gabrielle_ake and I jumped in fear.” “‘It’s too close – we’re closing in,’ advised photographer Ron Windham.”

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