The tourist killed in a shark attack in Hawaii over the weekend was a recently retired optometrist, family man and avid adventurer from California, friends said.
Dr. Thomas Smiley, 65, of Granite Bay, was swimming about 60 yards from the shore near the Kaanapali Shores resort in Maui early Saturday when the shark set upon him.
He was on vacation with his wife, and had just retired this year, CBS Sacramento reported.
Friends told the outlet Smiley enjoyed water-skiing, scuba diving and race car driving.
Smiley’s longtime best friend Dr. Gary Taxera, whom he met more than 40 years ago when they attended the UC Berkeley School of Optometry together, told local station KCRA 3 that Smiley was always a comforting presence for his patients.
“He was one of those people, he would ask [his patients], ‘How are you doing?’” Taxera said. “And basically wanted to know how you were doing. Not because it was conversation.”
He often organized racing events to raise money for children, and autocross was one of his hobbies.
“He never backed down to a challenge, physical or intellectual,” Taxera told the station.
More than anything, Smiley was most passionate about his family — his wife, three children and six grandchildren, the pal added.
“When he became a grandfather, that tender side that was in there that he always kept suppressed, he couldn’t keep it suppressed anymore,” Taxera said. “He loved his children and he really loved his grandchildren.”
Taxera told the station that anyone who didn’t have a chance to get to know Smiley was “missing out.”
“I’m a man of faith,” he said. “And nobody’s going to ever tell me that it was his time to die. That’s not the way it works, in my opinion. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing something in a place he loved.”
After the attack, Smiley was raced to the shore on a jet ski and CPR was performed. But the optometrist, who witnesses said lost his left leg, couldn’t be saved.
Hawaii’s last fatal shark attack happened in 2015, killing a snorkeler off Maui, according to the report.
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