MAUI, Hawaii (AP/FOX 40) - The California optometrist killed by a shark in Hawaii over the weekend was a frequent visitor to the islands and an avid scuba diver who had recently retired, friends said.
A shark attacked 65-year-old Thomas Smiley while he was swimming Saturday in the Ka'anapali Beach Park area on Maui, police said.
A witness said that when rescuers pulled him to shore and began CPR, he was missing a leg from the knee down. Smiley died at the scene. He was swimming about 60 yards from shore when the attack happened, authorities said.
Longtime friend Dr. Gary Taxera told Fox 40 in Sacramento that Smiley was an optometrist from Granite Bay, California, near Sacramento. He had retired in January from Sacramento Contact Lenses. The two attended UC Berkeley about four decades ago.
"His wife called me Saturday, said that he’d been attacked by a shark and he didn’t make it, those were her exact words," Taxera said. "I had to sit down, I couldn’t believe what she told me."
Smiley regularly vacationed on Maui and enjoyed swimming, water skiing and racing cars, he said.
"He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time doing something in a place he loved," Taxera said.
Neil Roszkowski, another friend, told Fox 40 that Smiley was a "fantastic guy. You couldn't help but love him."
Smiley leaves behind a wife, Gale, three children and six grandchildren.
Taxera described him as having a personality that was bigger than life.
"He was a good-hearted man, and people who didn't get to know him, really missed out," Taxera said.
Witness Allison Keller told a TV station in Hawaii that the man appeared unconscious when he was pulled from the water.
"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," Keller said. "And then I got looking closer, and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing."
The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii was in 2015, when a snorkeler off Maui was killed.
Fox 40's Jessica Mensch contributed to this report.