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29-year-old man ID'd, among 3 dead after Lafayette Square lightning strike in DC

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 8/6/2022 7News Staff
Wisconsin couple, 29-year-old man die after lightning strikes 4 people in Lafayette Square
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Two tourists from Janesville, Wisconsin, as well as a 29-year-old man, are dead after being struck by lightning near the White House Thursday, authorities said. 

Thursday evening, D.C. Fire and EMS officials responded to reports of people injured after a lightning strike in Lafayette Park. U.S. Park Police and Secret Service officers saw the lightning strike and called crews before providing life-saving measures to the victims. Officials said two men and two women were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. 

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Friday morning, 7News learned out of the four people, 76-year-old James Mueller and 75-year-old Donna Mueller from Wisconsin, have died.

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Then around 4:30 p.m. Friday, officials said the 29-year-old man had died.

Saturday, 7News learned the identity of that man as Brooks Lambertson, of Los Angeles, CA.

"Brooks was an incredible young man who will be remembered for his generosity, kindness and unwavering positivity. His sudden loss is devastating for all who knew him, and his family, friends and colleagues appreciate the thoughts and prayers that have poured in from around the country," City National Bank, Lambertson's employer, said in a statement. 

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"Brooks was a vice president at City National Bank, managing sponsorships for the company. He was in Washington, D.C. for business," the bank added. "Brooks lived in downtown Los Angeles and was an avid sports fan. Prior to joining City National, he was the manager of partnership marketing for the Los Angeles Clippers. He graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation, parks and tourism administration and a concentration in sports management."

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Metropolitan Police Department said that the fourth victim remains hospitalized in critical condition. MPD says they don't have any information on any relationship between the deceased couple and the two others who were struck.

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Where the lightning strike happened is a popular tourist spot. D.C. Fire and EMS officials said Thursday that the fast response by those officers already on the scene could improve the survival chances for the victims.

The White House issued a statement regarding the incident Friday:

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of life after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park. Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and are praying for those still fighting for their lives."

The Wisconsin couple's niece, Michelle McNett, issued the following statement:

"Jim and Donna were on their 56th wedding anniversaries trip, they were high school sweethearts. Both were semi-retired. Jim owned his own drywall business and Donna was a teacher but currently working at the Comfort Shop in Janesville. Both would do anything for their family and friends. They had 5 children, 10 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. The family asks for privacy and prayers as they navigate through this sudden tragedy."

"You would never think that simply standing outside would take your life, and it is just a shock to process that and it's a shock to process that it happened to people that are so close to you," said Jacqui Hein, a neighbor to the Muellers.

7News was at the site of Lafeyette Park where the victims were struck by lightning when U.S. Park Police told visitors in the area to leave the park following the risk of severe weather on Friday.

Lightning safety specialist John Jensenius said these are the first lightning deaths in DC since 1991. He said the tragedy underscores the importance of getting to safety quickly.

"We don't want people to wait until it starts raining before they take shelter because lightning can strike as much as 10 miles away from a thunderstorm," he said. "So, if you're hearing thunder, even a distant rumble, you're already in danger and need to get inside."

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