Doctors said the injuries sustained by the two were consistent from a lightning strike.

But those on the river find that hard to believe.

The sky was clear. Harding even held an umbrella over the brothers to shade them from the sun. No one heard a noise or saw a flash.
It was a lazy Sunday afternoon on the Weekiwachee River.

Teens whooped and hollered as they dropped from trees into the sluggish water.

Boats of all sizes slowed to a crawl as they navigated through the hordes of swimmers.

Dan Thetard put his 12-foot john boat in neutral when two young men dived beneath the craft.

The normally clear water was murky from the sand kicked up by dozens of feet, but Thetard could make out two shapes at the bottom of the river.

The two divers were face down.

"Those kids are in trouble," Thetard said and dived overboard.

Thetard's wife, Anne, expected he would surface with two sputtering teens and give them a lecture on the danger of diving near boats.

Instead he came up with a limp body that was rapidly turning shades of purple and blue.

"He was like a rag doll," Anne Thetard recalled Tuesday.

Thetard shouted for help and swam to the nearby shore with the first victim. Joann Davidhizar pulled the limp body up by the armpits onto the dock and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Thetard went back for the second body and brought it to shore.

Neither was breathing or had a heartbeat.

"Those boys were dead," said Max Harding, whose backyard served as a makeshift triage.

The two dozen or so frolicking in the water had come onshore and formed a crowd around the people pumping chests.

A brother to the two victims cried out, "Oh God, why!"

His plea was heard by Felicia Hunt, who was aboard a boat that had just passed the scene. She had seen the crowd on shore, but she didn't want to interfere and get in the way.

But the desperate cry from a grieving brother tugged at her heart and brushed aside any misgivings.

Her boat had already passed around a bend and Harding's house was out of sight. Hunt jumped overboard and made the long swim to the dock.

The first thing she noticed was that the rescuers were not performing CPR correctly.

She waded through the crowd, which gave her some resistance until she told them she had training through the Air Force.

Hunt set to reviving the first body: The head was tilted back, the chest pumps carefully measured. When the first victim came to, she put him on his side so that he wouldn't choke if he vomited.

She was still working on the second brother when medics arrived. Hunt escorted them to the ambulance, then returned to her sister and friends.

The calm authority she assumed when reviving the pair crumbled when she reached her car.

"I bawled my eyes out," she said Tuesday. She called her master sergeant and told him what had happened. "We never train for what you feel afterwards," she told him.

Meanwhile, the two brothers were flown by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital, where they remain in the intensive care unit. Authorities identified them as Tommy Wohnsen, 19, and Kevin Wohnsen, 18, both of Spring Hill in Pasco County.

No one answered their home phone on Tuesday.

The lightning enigma

What struck the witnesses about the whole episode was how quickly the brothers went from goofing around to dead in the river.

Davidhizar, who began CPR, lived for years on Lake Michigan and saw her fair share of drownings. She was surprised at the brothers' conditions.

"People that go under as briefly as they did don't look like that," she said.

Even if the two had somehow simultaneously bonked their heads on the john boat, it should have just been a matter of getting the water out of their lungs, she reasoned.

Blake Harding, Max's brother, was on the dock and only a few feet from the drowning. He described it as "all of a sudden."

"Something must have happened," he said.

Doctors said the injuries sustained by the two were consistent from a lightning strike.

But those on the river find that hard to believe.

The sky was clear. Harding even held an umbrella over the brothers to shade them from the sun. No one heard a noise or saw a flash.

The so-called "bolt from the blue" is a bit of a misnomer, but it is possible, according to Richard Kithil, founder and chief executive officer of the National Lightning Safety Institute, a nonprofit group based in Denver, Colo.

Lightning always has to come from a cloud, but it can travel up to 40 miles from its source - seemingly from out of nowhere, he explained.

There were storms in other parts of the county at 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

A lightning strike on the ground will create a field of static that makes hair stand on end and a sharp smell of ozone. The same effect occurs in water strikes, although to a lesser degree.

The water was packed with other swimmers, but Kithil said lightning's effects dissipate rapidly in water; anyone greater than 10-20 feet away wouldn't feel a jolt.

Kithil's opinion was limited without medical records detailing injuries, but he recognized that it was "very mysterious."

Harding and his companions have another theory.

A disabled boat was being towed in front of the Thet-ards. They think it's possible that faulty wiring created an electrical field that shocked the brothers as they surfaced.

Davidhizar recalled a case in Michigan in which an electrical cord dangling in the water shocked someone.

Staff of four area boat shops couldn't think of anything that could cause that powerful a shock from a watercraft small enough to fit on the Weekiwachee River.