Who Is Thomas Smiley? New Details About The Doctor Killed In Shark Attack In Hawaii

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Who Is Thomas Smiley? New Details About The Doctor Killed In Shark Attack In Hawaii

Dr. Thomas Smiley was a recently retired optometrist who was on the last day of a two-week vacation in Hawaii with his wife. He was from Granite Bay in Northern California. He was out for a swim off th beach at Ka'anapalai State Park in Maui on Saturday, May 25th when he was attacked by a shark around 9am. He was seen in distress and witnesses called 911, according to Chief Jason Redulla of Hawaii's Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement. Smiley was 65-years-old and is survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren. Who is Thomas Smiley and should we be freaked out about sharks while swimming in the ocean?

1. He recently retired

Dr. Thomas Smiley was a popular Northern California optometrist who vacationed frequently on Maui. He retired in January. He was an avid scuba diver and loved to water ski. He was a racecar fan who organized racing benefits for children in need. He was married to his wife Gale for 42-years. They were high school sweethearts who have been vacationing in Hawaii for 14 years. She told ABC News: "I walked out and people were pointing out in the water in this area where there's usually a lot of turtles there, there's a lot of snorkeling going on. I looked out and I thought, well, he was an amazing swimmer, he was a swimmer in school, snorkeler, water skier. He's been in water sports his whole life. I thought, that can't be him. So I watched for awhile, and the police rescue unit wave runner started over in our area. When they pulled him up on the shore I saw the swimsuit he was wearing and recognized that was him," Gale Smiley said. "I must have probably hollered down in horror and got down there and they had him in the ambulance...I saw his face...I was pretty much in shock.

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2. He was a family man

His beloved wife Gale said her husband was a family man with a sense of adventure. She said: "His spirit and his sense of adventure always pushed him to try new things. His attitude toward life was never be afraid of trying new things or putting yourself out there," she said. "And that's what he taught me. Everyone said that he was absolutely the best man that they had ever met," she said. "He was rock solid for everyone, they could count on him for anything." He was highly intelligent, the most wonderful family man...loved his kids, loved his grandchildren," she said. "The family is taking it really hard because they absolutely adored him. And he lived for his family."

3. First responders on jet skis tried to rescue him

Dramatic video from the scene of the shark attack shows first responders bringing Smiley back to shore. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Allison Keller told Hawaii News Now: 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. And then I got looking closer and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing. There was no blood or anything."

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4. It was most likely a Tiger Shark

Shark experts believe Smiley was attacked by a tiger shark. Hawaii is the perfect habitat for this shark and Maui has been a spot where tiget shark attacks happen more frequently. That said, shark attacks are very rare. There have been six attakcs in Hawaii this year, but Smiley's death was only the fifth ever recorded in Hawaii. The last time someone died from a shark attack was in April 2015. A 65-year-old family snorkler was bitten and died. 

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.