Three of the four people struck by lightning just a few dozen feet from the White House have died, D.C. police said Friday.
Four people were rushed to hospital with critical injuries after the strike in Lafayette Park on Thursday evening. Police officials said two of the victims who have since died were a couple from Wisconsin, and the third person was a 29-year-old man, WUSA9 reports. The victims’ identities have not yet been released.
The four were previously identified as two men and two women, fire department spokesperson Vito Maggiolo told The Daily Beast. Members of the U.S. Park Police and uniformed officers with the Secret Service witnessed the strike, according to Maggiolo, and rushed to perform life-saving measures.
The four victims were found in the center of the park, just south of a statue of Andrew Jackson, Maggiolo said at a later press conference. Witnesses told D.C. outlet WUSA that they had been standing underneath a tree when the lightning struck. Maggiolo clarified the victims were in the “vicinity” of a tree.
A call to first responders regarding the incident was placed at 6:52 p.m. Images shared on social media by D.C. Fire and EMS Department showed emergency services swarming the scene.
The National Weather Service earlier on Thursday issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area between 6:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., with the Post’s Capital Weather Gang reporting the possibility of 60-mph winds and quarter-sized hail.
An active investigation remains ongoing, with the park closed to visitors on Thursday night. No other information, such as whether the victims knew one another or what they were doing in the park during a storm, was immediately available.
“If it roars, go indoors,” Maggiolo said. “That’s the general guideline.”
Thursday did not mark the first time a lightning strike in Lafayette Square has caused known injuries. On June 5, 2020, a series of thunderstorms rolling through the city unleashed lightning that injured two National Guardsmen in the park.
The guardsmen were present in the park that night in response to a racial justice protest. The indirect strike, believed to have hit a tree near the men, caused them no visible burns, and they were transported to a nearby hospital alert, conscious, and expected to recover.