James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, died of injuries from lightning strikes in Lafayette Park near the White House Thursday night, a DC Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed. The couple were from Wisconsin. On Friday afternoon, police announced that a 29-year-old man had died of his injuries. His name is withheld pending notification of the family.
The condition of the other injured person has not been released.
The victims were riding through the storm under a tree, a police source said. The storm hit the DC area around 7 p.m. ET.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life following the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Friday. “Our hearts are with the families who have lost loved ones, and we pray for those who are still fighting for their lives.”
The three people killed were the 10th, 11th and 12th to be killed by lightning so far this year in the United States, according to National Lightning Safety Council expert John Jensenius.
The United States averages 16 lightning fatalities per year through Aug. 4 based on data from the past 10 years, Jensenius said late Friday. He also noted that this week’s deaths were the first in Washington since May 17, 1991, when one was killed and 10 others injured when lightning struck a tree during a lacrosse game.
“This incident underscores the need for people to get to a safe place whenever a thunderstorm strikes the area. Even a distant rumble of thunder should serve as a warning to get inside a building immediately. important or a hard metal roof,” wrote Jensenius. . “The incident also underscores the danger of taking shelter under a tree, as scene footage shows victims near a large tree. Lightning tends to strike the tallest object in the immediate area, which is often a tree.”
This story has been updated with additional information.