MAUI, Hawaii (AP) – The California man killed by a shark in Hawaii over the weekend was a frequent visitor to the islands and an avid scuba diver who had recently retired, a friend said.
A shark attacked 65-year-old Thomas Smiley while he was swimming Saturday in the Ka’anapali Beach Park area on Maui, police said.
A witness said that when rescuers pulled him to shore and began CPR, he was missing a leg from the knee down. Smiley died at the scene.
Longtime friend Gary Taxera told Hawaii News Now on Sunday that Smiley was an optometrist from Granite Bay, California, near Sacramento.
Smiley regularly vacationed on Maui and enjoyed swimming, water skiing and racing cars, he said.
“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time doing something in a place he loved,” Taxera said.
Smiley leaves behind a wife, three children and six grandchildren. Taxera described him as having a personality that was bigger than life.
“He was a good-hearted man, and people who didn’t get to know him, really missed out,” Taxera said.
Witness Allison Keller told the TV station that the man appeared unconscious when he was pulled from the water.
“As we got closer, I saw some blood on his stomach and then I got looking a little bit more, and his wrist – it looked like the skin on his wrist was just torn off,” Keller said. “And then I got looking closer, and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing.”
He was swimming about 60 yards (55 meters) from shore when the attack happened, authorities said.
The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii was in 2015, when a snorkeler off Maui was killed.