Updated Aug 5, 2022 - Science

3 people dead after lightning strike near White House

An image of the emergency scene near Lafeyette Park in D.C. after the lightning strike.

Photo: @dcfireems/Twitter

Three people died after being hospitalized for injuries from a lightning strike in a park near the White House, the Metropolitan Police Department said Friday.

The latest: D.C. police announced a third victim Friday — a 29-year-old man whose identity is being withheld until his family is notified, D.C. police told Axios.

  • The other two victims were 76-year-old James Mueller and 75-year-old Donna Mueller, from Janesville, Wisconsin.
  • D.C. police said Friday morning two other people who were injured from the strike in Lafayette Square were in critical condition in local hospitals.

The big picture: Two men and two women were hospitalized Thursday night with "critical life-threatening injuries" following the incident at the park, according to the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (DC Fire and EMS).

  • Officers witnessed the lightning strike and immediately began to render aid to the four victims, according to a fire department spokesperson.

What they're saying: "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," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Friday.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area Thursday evening.

  • There was a "6 stroke flash near the White House that hit the same point on the ground" at 6:49 p.m, analyst Chris Vagasky told the Washington Post.
  • That means six individual surges of electricity hit the same point on the ground within half a second, he said.
  • Lafayette Square adjoins the White House, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the U.S. Treasury to the north.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and abundant cloud-to-ground lightning swept across the D.C. area during the evening rush hour, with warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

  • Lighting strikes kill an average of 20 people a year in the U.S., and injure many more. During the storm that injured this group, a wind gust of 58 mph was recorded at nearby Reagan National Airport, and reports came in of downed trees and power lines as well.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper