White House: Sole Lightning Survivor Has Pain and Memory Loss – 08/08/2022

A 28-year-old woman has been named by US authorities as the only survivor of lightning that struck the White House lawn on Thursday. Taken to hospital in critical condition, Amber Escudero-Kontostathis was breathing with the help of machines, but yesterday she showed signs of improvement and was able to rehearse her first steps after the accident. She still has pain and burns, as well as dealing with short-term memory loss from the incident.

She survived a lightning strike that killed Brooks Lambertson, 29, vice president of the City National Bank, and James and Donna Mueller, 76 and 75, who were visiting the capital to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.

The group was caught off guard by a summer storm and hid under a tree, which was later struck by lightning.

The accident was recorded by security cameras at the White House.

“Amber managed to take a few steps last night; it was painful but her will is strong,” wrote Amber’s mom Julie. Escuderoin a post published yesterday on Facebook.

“Please pray that the pain is manageable. She is in a lot of pain. The nurses were taking her to the shower when we just got off the phone with us. They told her it would be painful,” said Julie.

“We also need prayers for us to be strong, calm and say the right words to help relax her. Her short-term memory is still improving, step by step.”

The family added that Amber is very scared about what happened. She repeatedly asks what happened to her and says she feels guilty for having survived. An online crowdfunding was created in her name on GoFundMe, to help her pay for medical expenses, which has already raised over R$185,000.

Trees offer no protection

US Secret Service and Park Police officers saw the accident and immediately attended to the victims, said Vito Maggiolo, a spokesman for the Fire Department in the White House area. “They performed CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) on the wounded before they were taken to a nearby hospital.”

Maggiolo said it was likely that the four people affected in the incident had tried to take shelter under a tree in the garden of the presidential residence when the storm erupted shortly before 7 pm.

“Trees are not safe places,” Maggiolo said. “Anyone going to seek shelter under a tree, it’s a very dangerous place to be.”

Chris Vagasky, an analyst with a national lightning observation network, told the Washington Post that a total of six lightning strikes were recorded that hit the same spot near the White House, half a second apart, at 6:49 pm.

“She is now facing a healing process from the burns, which is something very painful. They have to clean, rub all the scabs, every day,” wrote Amber’s mother today on her Facebook profile. “Please pray that all is well with her kidney. She is in pain in that area.”

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