Two people were killed and two critically injured after they were struck by lightning near the White House.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wisconsin, died of their injuries after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park, located directly outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said Friday.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life,” the White House said in a statement on Friday. “Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”
The two other people, a man and a woman, were in critical condition, the police department said. Their identities were not immediately released.
According to the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, at 6.53 p.m. Thursday, the department “received a report of a lightning strike at Lafayette park with multiple patients.”
Lafayette Square, a seven-acre public park that lies directly north of the White House, is often crowded with visitors, especially in the summer months.
The lightning struck the four people near a tree that stands yards away from the fence that surrounds the presidential residence and offices.
“When we arrived we found a total of four patients, there were two adult males and two adult females,” Vito Maggiolo, a spokesperson for the D.C. Fire and EMS department, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
All four victims sustained critical, life-threatening injuries, and were taken to area hospitals, where two later died, authorities said.
Members of the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police had witnessed the lightning strike and immediately responded by providing medical aid to the injured people. Maggiolo thanked them for their swift action.
Temperatures in Washington exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius) on Aug. 4.
But with the high humidity, the heat felt like more than 100 degrees, forecasters said. A violent thunderstorm swept through the capital late in the day.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.