Shark attack kills California man swimming off Maui, authorities say

KA’ANAPALI, HI — A shark attack killed a 65-year-old man as he was swimming off the coast of Maui Saturday morning, according to authorities.

The man, who was from California, encountered the shark about 60 yards off of Kaanapali Beach at around 8:30 a.m. local time, Dan Dennison, a spokesman for Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, told CNN. A close friend identified the victim as optometrist Dr. Thomas Smiley. Smiley was a resident of Granite Bay, located thirty miles northeast of Sacramento, according to KTXL.

Dr. Thomas Smiley (Credit: KTXL)

As a matter of protocol, authorities posted signs along a half-mile stretch beach warning people of a shark, Dennison said.

“Tom should be remembered for his zest for life. He enjoyed being around people and I don’t think he liked being alone. He loved being around family and friends,” Smiley’s friend Gary Taxera told CNN.

An incident report from the County of Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety — obtained by CNN affiliate KHON — says Smiley’s family told authorities he had gone for a swim.

The report indicates that Smiley was unresponsive and that first responders performed CPR after bringing him ashore.

“This was just a case of bad timing. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Taxera said. “His wife told me that Tom told her he was going to go on one last swim before they left (Maui).”

Dennison told CNN it was the first shark attack off of Maui this year.

But it’s at least the third attack in the state in 2019. In April, another 65-year-old tourist from California was attacked off the island of Hawaii, and authorities had to close Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kaua’i after a shark attacked a surfer in February.

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