August 16, 2022


WASHINGTON (AP) — A Wisconsin husband and wife celebrating more than five decades of marriage died after being struck by lightning outside the White House. The third victim was pronounced dead on Friday evening, and another has been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

The Metropolitan Police Department said Friday that 76-year-old James Mueller and 75-year-old Donna Mueller of Janesville, Wisconsin, died Thursday after being struck by lightning in Lafayette Park, located outside the White House complex.

The third victim, a 29-year-old adult male, was pronounced dead on Friday. The police department said the condition of the fourth person, a woman, is critical. His identity was not immediately released.

In this photo provided by @dcfireems, the emergency medical team is staged on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Park on Thursday evening, August 4, 2022 in Washington. (@dcfireems via AP)

Officials did not say how the people were injured, other than to say that they were seriously injured by lightning.

According to his niece, Michelle McNett of Janesville, Mueller was on a trip to Washington, D.C. to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.

“They were a very loving couple,” McNutt told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They were very, very family-oriented. I think right now everyone is in shock and requesting privacy.”

The couple had five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, she told the newspaper.

Donna Muller was a teacher and in retirement worked at Comfort Shopee, a local furniture store. Jim, 76, was a retired contractor with 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 to hold meetings and just a few weeks earlier a large family had gathered.

“They were very religious,” she said. “Just the kind of guys who would take their shirt off their back to do anything for you, both.”

Secret Service and US Park Police officers noticed a lightning strike Thursday night and rushed for first aid, officials said. Fire department spokesman Vito Magiolo said emergency medical teams were called to the scene before 7 p.m. and all victims were taken to hospital with “serious, life-threatening injuries.”

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Lafayette Park after the lightning struck,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “Our hearts are with the families who have lost their loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”

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