News & Politics

Two Tourists Killed by Lightning in Lafayette Square

A couple from Wisconsin has died after being struck yesterday.

Photo courtesy of DC Fire and EMS

Update: A third victim—a 29-year-old man unrelated to the Wisconsin couple—has now reportedly died, as well.

During last night’s ferocious thunderstorm, a lightning strike in Lafayette Square sent four victims to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Two of the victims—James Mueller, 76, and his wife, Donna Mueller, 75—died last night and this morning, respectively. The couple was visiting from Wisconsin. The two other victims remain in critical condition, according to an MPD spokesperson.

This is the second time people have been hit by lightning in Lafayette Square in the past three years; on June 5th, 2020, two National Guardsmen were struck. Both survived.

Lightning strikes with multiple victims are relatively rare, but DC has experienced a few disastrous ones. In May of 1991, during a soccer game at St. Albans School, a teenaged player died and ten others were injured. Some were hurt when the tree they were sheltering under fell. Four years later, in June of 1995, three people standing under a tree outside of a Grateful Dead concert at RFK stadium were injured in a lightning strike. Then, in 1998, a lightning strike inside RFK stadium injured eleven people during the Tibetan Freedom Concert.

Sylvie McNamara
Staff Writer