As severe storms continue to hit the East Coast, lightning struck four individuals at Lafayette Park, located directly across the street from the White House. The victims remain in critical condition and are currently receiving treatment for their “life-threatening injuries,” fire officials reported.
The freak storm occurred on Thursday evening when thunderstorms were making their way across the Mid-Atlantic region.
The lightning struck quickly and violently in the same area, leaving bystanders little time to run for cover.
Soon, D.C. fire and emergency crews arrived at the scene and worked quickly to tend to the four victims, two males and two females. According to D.C. Fire and EMS Public Information Officer Vito Maggiolo, among the responding individuals were the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police officers. Apparently, the victims were standing near the center statue of former President Andrew Jackson as well as a tree.
“All we know for sure is that there was a lightning strike in their vicinity, in their immediate vicinity, and all four were injured,” he said.
Witnesses Recall ‘Horrific’ Moment When Lightning Struck Near White House
Among the bystanders that witnessed the lightning strike was David Root. According to Root, he attends a support group for the people of Ukraine every Sunday at Lafayette Square. When the storms started, Root took cover underneath a tree. That’s when he heard the “horrific boom” coming from across the street.
“I was just in a state of shock,” Root told News4. “I just couldn’t believe it. Was surreal. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”
Root and several other bystanders rushed to the scene and began performing life-saving measures to the four lightning strike victims.
“We saw several people beside a tree, and they weren’t moving, and so I ran over there to try to help,” Root said. “Several people ran over there, and I gave him chest compressions with another person. We alternated.”
Luckily, lightning strike victims (along with cold-water drowning victims) are among the most likely to be revived from CPR. Thanks to Root and other bystanders’ actions, they were able to keep the victims in recoverable condition until paramedics arrived.
Also at the scene was witness Anna Mackiewicz, who is visiting from Poland.
“We stood there, and suddenly there was this horrible sound,” said Mackiewicz. “We started to scream, and my husband said, ‘Just let’s run away.’ I saw in the corner of my eye. I saw, you know, the light.”
Of course, the witnesses ultimately hoped that the victims made a full and speedy recovery from the lightning strike.
“I just hope and pray that these people survive,” Root said. “That’s the most important thought in my mind right now.”