WASHINGTON (TAUT) — A Wisconsin man and woman who have been married for more than five decades have been killed in a lightning strike outside the White House. A third victim died Friday evening, another is in hospital with life-threatening injuries.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wisconsin, died of their injuries after Thursday’s lightning strike in Lafayette Park, right outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said Friday.
A third victim, a 29-year-old adult 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.
The Muellers were traveling to Washington, DC, to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary, according to their cousin, Michelle McNett of Janesville.
“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, she told the newspaper.
Donna Mueller was a teacher and retired at Comfort Shoppe, a local furniture store. Jim, 76, 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.”
The husband and wife, according to their niece, loved gatherings and had a large family gathering a few weeks ago.
“They were very religious,” she said. “Just the kind of people who would give the shirt off their backs to do something for you both.”
Secret Service officers and U.S. park police witnessed the lightning strike Thursday night and rushed to provide first aid, officials said. Emergency medical services were called to the scene just before 7 p.m. and transported all victims with “critical, life-threatening injuries” to hospital, fire spokesman Vito Maggiolo said.
“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.”