Several people have been transported to local hospitals and are in critical condition after getting struck by lightning outside the White House.
The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said that four people were critically injured in Lafayette Park by the lightning strike.
First responders “transported 2 adult males & 2 adult females to area hospitals,” the department said on Twitter. “All had critical life threatening injuries.”
Fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo told The Washington Post that the four adults were found approximately 100 feet away from the statue of Andrew Jackson.
Apparent lightning strike Lafayette Park NW. #DCsBravest on scene in the process of treating and transporting 4 patients, all in critical condition. pic.twitter.com/1jyCh44Q2n
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) August 4, 2022
A spokesman for DC Fire and EMS said in a video published on social media over an hour later providing an update on the situation.
“This statement is being made inside of a vehicle due to was significant storm conditions that are currently taking place in the area,” the spokesman said. “At 6:52pm, DC fire and EMS received a report of a lightning strike in Lafayette Park with multiple patients. When we arrived, we found a total of four patients. There were two adult males and there were two adult females. All four were suffering from critical life threatening injuries.”
“We were able to quickly treat and transport all four patients and they were all taken to area hospitals,” the spokesman continued. “We want to make note of the fact that uniformed officers from both the United States Secret Service uniformed division, as well as the United States Park Police who witnessed this lightning strike, we want to thank them for immediately responding to the scene and rendering aid to the for injured individuals.”
Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist and lightning expert who works as an analyst for a company that makes weather instruments, told The Washington Post that there was a “6 stroke flash near the White House that hit the same point on the ground” which means that six separate lightning strikes hit the same exact spot in a fraction of a second.
According to the National Weather Service, the average number of annual deaths recorded from lightning strikes (based on data from 2009 – 2018) is 27.
“Over the last 30 years (1989 – 2018) the U.S. has averaged 43 reported lightning fatalities per year,” National Weather Service noted. “Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.”
Lafayette Park and the blocks that surround it, a seven-acre area known as Lafayette Square, are located across the street from the White House.
This report has been updated to include additional information.