Two people were killed and two were critically injured by a lightning strike in Lafayette Park on Thursday, according to a D.C. police spokeswoman at a news conference on Friday.
According to ABC News, the deceased victims were identified as Janesville, Wisconsin residents James Mueller, 76, and Donna Meuller, 75.
According to Vito Maggiolo, a fire department spokeswoman, the incident occurred around 7 p.m. in the middle of the park, roughly 100 feet from the statue of Andrew Jackson, according to The Washington Post.
Following the strike, the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police arrived first and saved lives until paramedics could arrive, according to Fox Weather.
The victims were discovered shortly after D.C. Fire and EMS arrived “in the vicinity of a tree,” according to ABC News. “Life-threatening injuries” were present in all four victims when they were taken to surrounding hospitals.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made a statement regarding the unfortunate event on Friday. The statement said, “We are devastated by the unfortunate loss of life following the lightning strike in Lafayette Park. “Our prayers are with those still battling for their lives, and our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones.”
When PEOPLE reached out to D.C. Police for comment, they did not immediately answer, but at the news conference, officials did not reveal if the victims were tourists or were aware of the impending storm.
The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the region Thursday evening before the storms, according to Fox Weather.
Just before 7 o’clock, Doppler radar indicated powerful storms moving across the area, according to the outlet.
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According to the National Lightning Safety Council, the two victims represent the first lightning-related fatalities in the District of Columbia since 1991. Everyone in the United States has a 1/18,043 chance of being struck by lightning in their lifetime, according to their data.
The council’s advice is simple: stay inside during a storm. When thunderstorms are in the area, the council declared that “nowhere outside is safe.” “Go inside when the thunder roars!”