The California man who was killed in an apparent shark attack while swimming in Hawaii on Saturday was a “good-hearted” family man who led an active lifestyle, according to his friends.
The victim, 65-year-old Thomas Smiley, was a longtime optometrist and resident of Granite Bay, about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento. Smiley had flown into Maui with his wife two weeks before the fatal attack. He had just retired this year, KPIX reported.
“He was a good-hearted man,” Dr. Gary Taxera, a lifelong friend of Smiley’s, told KCRA-TV. “He was one of those people, he would ask [his patients], ‘How are you doing?’ And basically wanted to know how you were doing. Not because it was conversation.”
Taxera told the station that Smiley loved skiing, scuba diving and organized racing events. But Smiley’s biggest passion, Taxera said, was his family.
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“When he became a grandfather, that tender side that was in there that he always kept suppressed, he couldn’t keep it suppressed anymore. He loved his children and he really loved his grandchildren,” said Taxera.
Witnesses cited by Hawaii News Now told Maui police that Smiley was swimming about 60 yards from the shore in Honokowai near Ka’anapali Beach Park when the attack occurred. Emergency responders were called to the scene around 8:45 a.m.
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A Maui police spokesman said responders pulled Smiley ashore and tried to revive him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii was in 2015 when a snorkeler off Maui was killed.
Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.