Third victim died after lightning strike near White House

Three people are now dead after lightning struck outside the White House on Thursday night.

The third victim was pronounced dead Friday night, following the death yesterday of a Wisconsin husband and wife who had been married for more than five decades in the US capital.

A fourth person is in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wisconsin, died of their injuries after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park, right outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said Friday.

The third victim, a 29-year-old man, died on Friday. The fourth person, a woman, was in critical condition, police said. Their identities were not immediately released.

Authorities have not disclosed how the people were injured, other than that they were seriously injured in the lightning strike.

A bolt of lightning strikes a tree in front of a white building.
Lightning strikes a tree in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, on Thursday in this image captured on video captured by a TV camera mounted nearby. (Reuters)

‘Very loving couple’

According to their cousin Michelle McNett of Janesville, the Muellers were traveling to Washington to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.

“They were a very loving couple,” McNett told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They were very, very family oriented. I think everyone is just in shock now and asking for privacy.”

The couple had five children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, McNett told the paper.

Donna was a teacher and retired at the Comfort Shoppe, a local furniture store. James was a retired contractor who ran his own drywall business.

McNett said she’s not sure why the couple chose the nation’s capital for their vacation, but added that Donna was “a constant learner.”

She said they loved gatherings and had organized a big family event a few weeks ago.

“They were very religious,” she said. “Like the kind of people who would give their shirt off their backs to do something for you, both of you.”

Secret service, police provided first aid

Secret Service officers and U.S. park police witnessed the lightning strike and rushed to provide first aid, officials said.

Emergency medical services were called just before 7 p.m. ET and took all victims to hospital.

“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 are with the families who have lost loved ones and we pray for those who are still fighting for their lives.”

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