Lone survivor of White House lightning strike is on the mend

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:05 AM MDT
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) – The sole survivor of a lightning strike outside the White House nearly two weeks ago is on the road to recovery.

Amber Escudero-Kontostathis, 28, says her physical wounds are slowly healing, but it will take a while for the emotional ones to mend. She now uses a walker to get around, and much of her body is covered in bandages, healing her severe burns.

Despite that, Escudero-Kontostathis is healing remarkably well for someone who nearly died. She doesn’t remember being struck by lightning Aug. 4, but she knows that it was the quick thinking of others that saved her life.

A Secret Service officer and two travel nurses jumped into action, performing CPR on Escudero-Kontostathis and – in her words – bringing her back to life, twice.

“They literally brought me back twice, no heartbeat, brought it back, nothing, 10 minutes-plus, they brought me back,” she said. “Without people like that, there is no amazing miracle story. They’re the miracle makers.”

Escudero-Kontostathis reunited with her heroes this week.

Escudero-Kontostathis was canvassing for Threshold Giving, a nonprofit that assists refugees, when the storm hit.

She was one of four people struck by lightning under a tree and the only person who survived.

“I’m not sure why I’m the one that made it,” she said. “I definitely have survivor’s guilt because I were to be this lucky, like, I feel like everyone should be.”

Escudero-Kontostathis said she thinks her shoes with thick rubber soles might have helped save her, and she plans on keeping them for the rest of her life.

The three victims were identified as 76-year-old James Mueller and 75-year-old Donna Mueller, a couple from Wisconsin, and 29-year-old Brooks Lambertson, who was visiting from Los Angeles on a business trip.

Before the storm hit, Escudero-Kontostathis had spoken with the Muellers, who told her they were retired and visiting Washington.

The journey to recovery for Escudero-Kontostathis is uncomfortable, requiring therapy and constant doctor’s visits. But through the pain, she said a second chance at life is motivating her to live with no regrets.

“When I’m crying in pain, I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m lucky,” she said.

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