Lightning strikes
Representation. Lightning strikes. xantype/Pixabay


  • Amber Escudero-Kontostathis was the sole survivor among four people who were struck by lightning in Washington, D.C., on Aug 4
  • She suffered burns down the left side of her body, with one burn on her abdomen causing "unbearable" pain
  • Her family said she is making "amazing" progress with her recovery and is "getting stronger each day"

A human rights advocate in Washington, D.C., has been called a "miracle" after she survived being struck by lightning earlier this month and has been showing signs of recovery.

Amber Escudero-Kontostathis was collecting donations for refugees as part of her job with the nonprofit advocacy group Threshold Giving when a severe thunderstorm rolled in and forced her to seek shelter in Lafayette Square on Aug. 4, Accuweather reported.

As the California native stayed in a grove of trees with several others, a series of lightning strikes lit up the sky of the park at around 6:50 p.m.

Escudero-Kontostathis, who was scheduled to go on a dinner date with her husband Achilles to celebrate her 28th birthday that night, was among those who were struck by the electrostatic discharges.

Lightning also struck elderly couple James Mueller and Donna Mueller of Janesville, Wisconsin, as well as 29-year-old Los Angeles banker Brooks Lambertson.

Nearby Secret Service agents rushed over with defibrillators to help the victims.

"The U.S. Secret Service uniform division and U.S. Park Police both witnessed the strike and immediately began rendering medical aid to the four victims. We had a very robust initial response," Washington, D.C., Fire and EMS Department spokesperson Vito Maggiolo said.

Secret Service agents were able to revive Escudero-Kontostathis, who fell to the ground after the lightning strike caused her heart to stop. However, both James and Donna were killed as a result of being hit.

Lambertson was also revived, but he later died of his injuries at a hospital.

Escudero-Kontostathis was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries and was immediately placed on a ventilator.

She suffered burns down the left side of her body, and her mother, Julie Escudero, said that one large burn on her abdomen was causing "unbearable" pain and making her "feel like her stomach is on fire."

Doctors believe the lightning strike entered Escudero-Kontostathis' side and exited through her left arm, according to her brother Robert Escudero.

Despite her injuries, Escudero-Kontostathis is making "amazing" progress and "getting stronger each day," Robert said.

Escudero-Kontostathis was initially too weak to walk, but she is now able to "take a few" steps, according to Julie.

While she is still experiencing excruciating pain from the burns on her body, Escudero-Kontostathis has been "literally blowing all the doctors away with the progress of her body," the mother said.

"The trauma doctor came up (to the family) and said she's an 'absolute miracle,'" her mother said.

Escudero-Kontostathis recovered enough for her to be moved from the intensive care unit to the burn unit just two days after she was struck by lightning.

However, her road to recovery "will be an uphill battle," Robert said.

"But it's one she will win with the full support of family, friends and medical professionals," he added.

A GoFundMe campaign set up by family friends to cover Escudero-Kontostathis' medical costs, her family's travel expenses and any accessibility needs she may face has raised $49,940 as of writing.

The fundraiser noted that Escudero-Kontostathis is scheduled to start a master's degree program at Johns Hopkins University in the coming weeks and that the donations will also aid in finding travel accommodations to and from the school.

Two Dead And Two Injured After Lightning Strike Near White House
Two Dead And Two Injured After Lightning Strike Near White House