Powerful lightning strikes near the White House on Aug. 4 led to four people being hospitalized — and three of them later died.
Officials initially said two men and two women, all adults, were critically hurt in the lightning strikes, according to The Washington Post.
Three of them — including a retired Wisconsin couple — later succumbed to their injuries, the Post reported.
James and Donna Mueller of Janesville, Wisconsin, had been celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary when the lightning struck, the report said.
Also killed was an unidentified 29-year-old man.
The Post quoted a witness it did not name as saying one strike was “massive.”
“It shook the whole area,” the person said. “Literally like a bomb went off, that’s how it sounded.”
The storm rolled through shortly before 7 p.m. with a video recording multiple cloud-to-ground strikes.
Members of the U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service reported the strikes near the White House to first responders, who then administered CPR and other aid, according to WTTG-TV.
“What I want to do is thank them because their agents, their officers witnessed this lightning strike and immediately began to render aid to the four victims which is very critical in helping with survivability,” D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Vito Maggiolo said.
Maggiolo said the four victims were found in a small grove about 100 feet southeast of the statue of Andrew Jackson.
“Trees are not safe places,” he said. “Anybody that goes to seek shelter under a tree, that’s a very dangerous place to be.”
This appears to be video of the lightning strike outside the White House that critically injured 4 adults this afternoon.
Experts said 6 separate lightning strikes hit the same exact area within a fraction of a second. pic.twitter.com/Q06ibjsHMh
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 5, 2022
Witness David Root said he heard “a horrific boom,” according to WRC-TV.
“I was just in a state of shock. I just couldn’t believe it. Was surreal. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life,” said Root, who visits the park during the evening to participate in a daily vigil in support of Ukraine.
“We saw several people beside a tree, and they weren’t moving, and so I ran over there to try to help,” he said. “Several people ran over there, and I gave him chest compressions with another person. We alternated.”
“I just hope and pray that these people survive,” Root said. “That’s the most important thought in my mind right now.”
“We stood there, and suddenly there was this horrible sound,” witness Anna Mackiewicz of Poland said. “We started to scream, and my husband said, ‘Just let’s run away.’ I saw in the corner of my eye. I saw, you know, the light.”
Statement from @dcfireems regarding the lightning strike at Lafayette Park – #DCsBravest express sincere gratitude to the Uniformed Division of @SecretService and officers of US Park Police/@usparkpolicepio for rendering immediate medical care to the injured. #SaferStrongerDC pic.twitter.com/3ubPNA3MXn
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) August 5, 2022
Chris Vagasky, an analyst for Vaisala, which runs a national lightning network, said there was a “six stroke flash near the White House that hit the same point on the ground” at 6:49 p.m., the Post reported.
That means six surges of electricity hit the same place in less than half a second.
The lightning was part of a storm front that caused 58 mph winds at Reagan National Airport, toppled trees in parts of Maryland and flooded some Maryland highways.
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