Lightning strikes near White House kills 2, injures 2 others

A couple from Janesville, Wisconsin, died after a lightning strike in Lafayette Square, the public park right next to the White House.

Two others were were left with critical injuries Thursday night.

D.C. police tell WTOP the couple died overnight. Police have yet to release their identities.

The strike occurred as severe storms moved across the region bringing with them thunder, lightning and heavy rain.

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“Upon arrival we found four patients,” said D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Vito Maggiolo. “All four were suffering critical, life-threatening injuries. We were able to quickly treat and transport those four individuals to area hospitals.”

The two men and two women were found near a cluster of trees, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether they were hit directly by lightning or whether they were struck by a falling tree.

“I cannot describe the injuries,” Maggiolo said. “All we know for sure is that there was a lightning strike in their immediate vicinity, and all four were injured.”

Apparent lightning strike Lafayette Park NW. #DCsBravest on scene in the process of treating and transporting 4 patients, all in critical condition.

— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) August 4, 2022

Maggiolo stressed that their location was not safe during the severe weather.

“Anytime there’s lightning, you should go indoors or you should go to a safe place,” he said. “Trees of course are not safe places. So anybody who goes to seek shelter under a tree, that’s a very dangerous place to be.”

Officials with the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police were nearby and were able to help,  potentially saving their lives, Maggiolo said.

“I want to thank them because their agents and their officers witnessed this lightning strike and immediately began to render aid to the four victims,” Maggiolo said.

The incident was similar to one that happened a couple of years ago, when National Guard members were in D.C. due to protests in June of 2020.

Two members of the National Guard were injured when lightning struck in Lafayette Square, which is where they were stationed.

WTOP’s Mike Jakaitis contributed to this report.