A Wisconsin husband and wife died after more than five decades of marriage were struck by lightning outside the White House. Two others were 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 after being struck by lightning in Lafayette Park, just outside the White House complex.
Two other people, a man and a woman, are in critical condition after being struck by lightning on Thursday night, the police department said. His identity was not immediately released.
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 from 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.
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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,” 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 loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”