Thomas Smiley Biography
Dr. Thomas Smiley, of Granite Bay, who was in Hawaii on vacation with his wife, had been swimming about 60 yards from shore near the Kaanapali Shores resort when a witness saw him in distress in the water.
‘They pulled the man up. He looked unconscious when they transferred him to the other gurney,’ witness Allison Keller told Hawaii News Now.
‘And we could see that they were trying to do CPR on him.’
Keller said Smiley suffered horrific injuries from the attack.
‘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,’ she said.
Family and friends are heartbroken over the loss of Dr. Thomas Smiley. He died after a shark attacked him while he was swimming off the coast of Maui on Saturday. He is from Granite Bay and was on vacation with his wife. She made it home. Photo Courtesy: Gene Shlyakhov @FOX40 pic.twitter.com/hPMJzOIeZp
— Jessica Mensch (@Jessmensch) May 27, 2019
‘And then I got looking closer and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing. There was no blood or anything.’
Smiley could not be revived and succumbed to his injuries.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Smiley was a long-time local optometrist, and a big family man, according to friends.
He had just retired this year.
It is the first fatal shark attack in Hawaii since 2015 when a snorkeler was killed in Maui. According to Dailymail
First Responders on Jet Skis Attempted to Rescue Smiley
Dramatic video shows first responders on jet skis bringing Smiley back to shore. Rescue attempts were made but Smiley was pronounced dead at the scene. “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,” Allison Keller told Hawaii News Now. “And then I got looking closer and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing. There was no blood or anything,” she added. Keller said she could hear Smiley’s wife screaming in horror as she watched the attack and attempted a rescue.
“WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME” A shark attacked 65-year-old Thomas Smiley while he was swimming Saturday in the Ka’anapali Beach Park area on Maui, police said. https://t.co/4wKirQpASr
— CBS 42 (@CBS_42) May 27, 2019
The weather conditions for swimming seemed optimal. There were a light wind and a one-foot surf. The water Smiley was swimming in was described as 20-25 feet deep and clear. After the incident, warning signs were placed around Honokowai Point, the spot on Ka’anapali Beach where Smiley had been swimming. The signs remained through Sunday afternoon.
Scientists Suspect Smiley was Attacked by a Tiger Shark
Experts say Hawaii is the perfect habitat for tiger sharks, making that species the most likely suspect involved in the attack. “Maui has for some reason been a hot spot in the Hawaiian Islands for tiger shark attacks, and I don’t think anybody can really say with any certainty why that is,” Marine Conservation Science Institute (Marine CSI) Executive Director Michael Domeier revealed.
Dr. Thomas Smiley was an optometrist from Northern California who had just retired.
Domeier explained that it’s now important for scientists to identify and study which species of shark was involved in the attack to reduce the number of accidental interactions between humans and sharks. “The bite radius and the tooth pattern and sometimes a tooth fragment is left in the victim, like in the bone or something, and so, a tooth fragment is the surest way, but also the bite radius, if it’s a very big bite radius, then it rules out a lot of other species of sharks, like Galapagos shark. Tiger shark, of course, is the number one that comes to my mind for a fatal attack.”
Shark Attacks are Extremely Rare
Shark attacks are extremely rare. While there have been six shark attacks in Hawaii this year, Smiley’s was only the fifth recorded death in Hawaii.
The last fatality in Hawaii was a 65-year-old female snorkeler who was killed at Ahihi Kinau Bay on April 29, 2015. “In an island state that’s surrounded by water, human and shark conflicts do occur from time to time,” Redulla explained. “There is always the potential for conflict between animal and human, and we just have to be aware of that and respect that.”
The Florida Museum keeps the International Shark Attack File, a detailed database of shark attacks. The website includes a corresponding database showing deaths by other accidents and natural disasters including tornadoes, dog bites, hunting mishaps, and lightning strikes. The database is designed to put shark attacks into perspective and show their rarity compared to other accidental deaths.
Shark warnings are up in Hawaii this morning after a deadly attack. A witness says a shark bit off the leg of Thomas Smiley, a California man who was swimming off the coast of Maui on Saturday. He died after rescue attempts on the beach failed. @DavidBegnaud reports: MON0089 pic.twitter.com/1D10Bxw29x
— CBS Newspath (@cbsnewspath) May 27, 2019
Experts offer several safety tips to prevent accidental shark encounters including not entering the water at dawn, dusk or at night, staying away from large groups of fish where sharks may be feeding, removing shiny jewelry before swimming and not swimming with cuts or while menstruating.
Fast Facts You Need to Know
- Thomas Smiley, of Granite Bay, was swimming about 60 yards from shore near the Kaanapali Shores resort
- A witness saw him in distress in the water and called 911 – he was found unresponsive and brought to shore on a jet ski and given CPR
- Witness said the retired optometrist’s entire left leg from the knee down was missing, and the skin on one of his wrists had been torn off
- Smiley, who had been on vacation with his wife, could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene