Two people who were critically injured in a lightning strike near the White House have died, police confirmed to CBS News on Friday. Two more people remained hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wis., died of injuries after being struck by lightning in Lafayette Park, just outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
The Muellers’ niece, Michelle McNett, said in a statement that the couple were high school sweethearts on a trip to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. They are survived by five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“The family asks for privacy and prayers as they navigate this sudden tragedy,” McNett said.
Two other people, a man and a woman, were in critical condition, the Police Department said. Their identities were not immediately released.
A lightning strike was reported at 6:52 p.m. 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 U.S. Park Police officers who were in the area and witnessed the impact administered first aid to the victims, Maggiolo said.
“Their agents, their officers, saw this lightning strike and immediately began to render aid,” Maggiolo said.
It is not yet clear 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 have lost loved ones and we pray for those who are still fighting for their lives.”
A CBS News camera on the North Lawn of the White House during the lightning strike captured a powerful rumble of thunder.
“The thunder was so loud, @gabrielle_ake and I jumped in fear,” CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Nancy Cordes tweeted. “It’s too close – we’re closing,” advised photographer Ron Windham.