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Sole survivor of lightning strike near White House grateful to be alive

Emergency medical crews are staged on Pennsylvania Avenue
The Associated Press
Emergency medical crews are staged on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Park in Washington after a deadly lightning strike.

The woman who survived a lightning strike near the White House earlier this month that killed three others says she is grateful to be alive. 

Amber Escudero-Kontostathis, who received second-degree burns on the left side of her body, said in an interview that aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that she is “grateful” to have survived but does not feel good about being the only one. 

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department previously confirmed that three people died from their injuries after being struck on Aug. 4.

Escudero-Kontostathis said she did not fully comprehend what had happened at the time. ABC News reported that she was in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, doing fundraising for the International Rescue Committee and was waiting for her husband to pick her up to celebrate her 28th birthday. 

Escudero-Kontostathis said she and the three others took shelter from a storm under a tree, and she thought if the tree was hit, then it would catch fire and she could run away. 

“I don’t know why I survived,” she said. “I just don’t think it’s fair.” 

She said the last moment she remembers from the day was talking to 76-year-old James Mueller and 75-year-old Donna Mueller, a husband and wife who were celebrating their anniversary and who both died from the lightning. 

Escudero-Kontostathis said her shoes with large rubber soles may have helped her. 

Two emergency room nurses provided CPR to Escudero-Kontostathis and the other victims immediately after the lighting struck, ABC reported. Escudero-Kontostathis said she credited them with saving her life. 

“I died and came back,” she said. “I don’t think I had a heartbeat for some time. You don’t know when your last day might be.”

Tags Lightning strike Lightning survivor White House lightning strike
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