IBADAN, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- A lightning strike has killed two people and critically injured two others near the White House in Washington, DC late on Thursday, local authorities said.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, a couple from Janesville, Wisconsin, died from injuries sustained after lightning struck in Lafayette Park in Northwest DC Thursday evening.
The pair, along with two others, were just outside of the White House complex as severe thunderstorms shook the region.
The two others, a man and a woman, were left in critical condition following the incident, the Metropolitan Police Department said. Their identities have not been released.
A White House spokeswoman said the Biden administration was “saddened by the tragic loss of life.”
“We are praying for those still fighting for their lives,” added Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement.
US Secret Service and park police rushed to help the four after witnessing the strike, fire and emergency services department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said in a statement posted on social media.
Photos posted by the department on social media showed multiple ambulances and at least one fire truck with flashing lights working at the scene.
Witness David Root told NBC he heard a “horrific boom.”
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he was quoted as saying. “Was surreal. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”
He said he had been sheltering beneath a tree when he saw the lightning strike across the park.
The people “weren’t moving,” he said, so he and others ran over to give help.
The Washington Post said the four were found some 100 feet from the statue of former US president Andrew Jackson which marks the center of the square.
The strike was part of a severe thunderstorm that hit the American capital on Thursday evening.
“Trees are not safe places,” Maggiolo told the Post.
“Anybody that goes to seek shelter under a tree, that’s a very dangerous place to be.”