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Couple killed in lightning strike near White House

A couple from Wisconsin celebrating more than five decades of marriage were killed in a lightning strike outside the White House. Two others remain hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Janesville, Wis., died of their injuries following a lightning strike in Lafayette Park, located just outside the White House complex, the Metropolitan Police Department said today. Friday.

Two other people, a man and a woman, are in critical condition following the lightning strike Thursday night, the police department said. Their identities were not immediately revealed.

Authorities did not disclose how people were injured, other than saying they were seriously injured in the lightning strike.

A strong bolt of lightning struck a tree in front of a white building.
Lightning strikes a tree in Lafayette Park across from the White House during a thunderstorm Thursday in Washington, DC, as shown in video captured by a Reuters TV camera mounted on a nearby rooftop. (Reuters)

Retired couple celebrate 56th wedding anniversary

According to their niece, Michelle McNett, of Janesville, the Muellers took a trip to Washington, DC, to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.

“They were a very loving couple,” McNett told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They are very, very family-oriented. I think people are in shock right now and asking for privacy.”

McNett told the newspaper that the couple had five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Donna Mueller is a teacher and in retirement worked at Comfort Shoppe, a local furniture store. Jim, 76, is a retired contractor with his own drywall business.

McNett says she’s not sure why the couple chose the nation’s capital for their vacation, but added that “Donna is a constant learner.”

She said they love to get together and just held a big family event a few weeks ago.

“They are very religious,” she said. “It’s the kind of guy who shows his back what he does for both of them.”

Secret Service, Police First Aid

U.S. Secret Service and Park Police officials witnessed the lightning strike Thursday night and rushed to provide first aid, officials said.

Emergency medical personnel were called to the scene shortly before 7pm and transported all victims to hospital with “critical, life-threatening injuries”, fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life following the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”

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