WASHINGTON (AP) — A Wisconsin couple celebrating more than five decades of marriage was killed by lightning near the White House, a third victim was pronounced dead Friday night and another is hospitalized with injuries they endanger their lives.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, died of lightning injuries Thursday in Lafayette Park, which is located across from the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said. on Friday.
A third victim, a 29-year-old man, was pronounced dead on Friday. The fourth person, a woman, is in critical condition, the police department said. Her identities were not released.
The authorities also did not reveal what injuries the people had, and only pointed out that the lightning seriously injured them.
The Muellers were visiting Washington to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary, according to their niece Michelle McNett of Janesville.
“They were a very loving couple,” McNett told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They were very, very family-focused. I think everyone is shocked right now and asking for privacy.”
The couple had five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, he told the newspaper.
Donna Mueller was a teacher and after retiring she worked at the Comfort Shoppe, a local furniture store. Jim was a retired contractor who had his own drywall business.
Secret Service and Federal Park Police agents witnessed the lightning strike Thursday night and rushed to render first aid, officials said. Paramedics were summoned to the scene shortly after 7 pm and transported all the victims to the hospital with “critical, life-threatening injuries,” said Vito Maggiolo, a spokesman for the fire department.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life following the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those who are still fighting for their lives.”