Aug. 4 (UPI) — Four people were hospitalized in critical condition Thursday night after being struck by lightning in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square near the White House, authorities said.
Vito Maggiolo, public information officer for the D.C. Fire and EMS Department, said in a recorded statement published to Twitter that authorities received a report at 6:52 p.m. of multiple victims in the park as the result of a lightning strike.
Upon arrival, first responders found two men and two women “suffering from critical life-threatening injuries,” he said.
Authorities said uniformed officers of the Secret Service and Park Police witnessed the lightning strike and immediately began to render aid to the victims before they were transported to local hospitals.
The identities of the victims were not released to the public.
During a press conference, Maggiolo told reporters that the relationship between the victims was unknown as was what they were doing in the park prior to the lightning strike.
He said they were in the vicinity of a tree when they were struck.
“Anytime there’s lightning, you should go indoors or you should go to a safe place. And 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,” he said.
The incident is under investigation by fire officials and Park Police, he said.
The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Washington, D.C., that expired at 7:15 p.m. The service has also issued a flash flood warning for the district, which is in effect until 1:15 a.m. Friday.
This is not the first time that people have been struck by lightning in the park.
In June 2020, two National Guardsmen suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being struck by lightning in Lafayette Square.