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65-Year-Old Californian Killed in Hawaii Shark Attack

By Ilene Eng

On Saturday, a man was killed in an apparent shark attack while swimming off the beach of Kaanapali in Maui. He was identified as 65-year-old Thomas Smiley from California.

According to the Maui Fire Department, the incident happened before 9 a.m. near the waters of Aston Kaanapali Shores hotel. Rescuers found him about 60 yards from shore with life-threatening injuries. They pulled him on beach to perform CPR, but the man died at the scene.

Thomas Smiley was found about 60 yards from Kaanapali’s shore. (Google Maps)

The victim was vacationing with his wife. One witness, Allison Keller, said she heard the wife screaming, ‘That’s my husband! That’s my husband!’

“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,” said Keller.

Shark experts say shark attacks in Hawaii rank second in the United States after Florida. Due to the lack of information, authorities could not identify the kind of shark that attacked him, but Tiger shark bites are more prevalent in Maui.

According to the fire report, the ocean had high visibility, with winds at 5-8 mph and a flat to 1-foot-high surf.

After the incident, authorities of Maui County have put up shark warning signs on Kaanapali Beach Park. There is no word about when they will be taken down.

This is not the first deadly shark attack case in the area. A 65-year-old woman was killed in 2015 while snorkeling with two friends. She was found floating face-down in the water about 200 yards away from shore. The incident also occurred before 9 a.m. near Makena.

Michael Domeier, director of Marine Conservation Science Institute, says the bite radius and tooth fragment left on a victim can help identify the species.

“Tiger shark is the number one that comes to my mind for a fatal attack,” said Domeier.

In April, a 23-year-old was found floating off the coast of North Kohala. A Tiger shark was circling the body before dragging him down underwater. Since his body could was no longer visible, the search was called off.