‘Why did I make it?’: Woman speaks after being sole survivor of White House lighting strike

Four people were hit by lightning earlier this month. Three people died from the strike, but one woman, Amber Escudero-Kontostathis, didn’t know that there were three others hit that day. She thought she was the only one until she searched online for “Lightning Strike D.C.”

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Her search resulted in stories that said three people had died, but there had been one survivor — her, The Washington Post reported.

Escudero-Kontostathis was working in Lafayette Square at the time of the lightning strike, canvassing for Threshold Giving, a nonprofit run by International Rescue Committee that helps refugees. While searching online, she realized that the images of the other people were familiar, “Good Morning America” and the Post reported.

She had spoken with an older couple — James and Donna Mueller — who was in Washington, D.C. to celebrate their 56th anniversary.

Their conversation was the last thing Escudero-Kontostathis remembers before lightning hit.

Officials said Escudero-Kontostathis, the Muellers and Brooks Lambertson, 29, were huddled under a tree, taking shelter from a storm.

Experts said the lightning strike that hit the group was comprised of six individual surges of electricity striking the same point in half a second, the “GMA” reported.

Escudero-Kontostathis woke up with second-degree burns on her left side that she says still feel like “10,000 grains of sand are trying to get through each pore at the same time,” she told the Post.

Lightning hit the ground and traveled through her body. “My whole left side’s like pretty charred,” she told “Good Morning America.”

Escudero-Kontostathis said she is using a walker to get around. She is also not working while she heals.

She’s living with survivor’s guilt because she fears that she may have urged the Muellers to take shelter with her under the Lafayette Park tree. Escudero-Kontostathis cannot remember the moments before the lightning strike.

“My biggest fear is that I called back out to them,” Escudero-Kontostathis told the Post. “I couldn’t live with myself if that’s the case. It’s my biggest fear, that it’s because I wanted to say ‘Hi’ one more time before they left.”

“I have this guilt of, ‘Why did I make it?’” Escudero-Kontostathis told the Post. “I try to calm myself with gratitude of, ‘Well, I did, so I’m not going to waste it.’”

It may have been something as simple as the shoes that Escudero-Kontostathis was wearing at the time — sandals with thick rubber soles that may have absorbed the jolt of electricity, the Post reported.



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