Heartbroken wife tells how she watched helplessly as her husband was killed by a shark during their Hawaii vacation and insists the avid diver wasn‘t warned about danger in the water
The wife of the 65-year-old retired optometrist who died after he was attacked by a shark while swimming in Hawaii on Saturday has told how she watched helplessly as he tried to be saved.
Dr. Thomas Smiley, of Granite Bay, who was at his Maui vacation home with his wife Gale, had been swimming about 60 yards from shore near the Kaanapali Shores resort when a witness saw him in distress in the 25ft-deep water.
Gale says she also saw her husband‘s struggle but did not initially realize it was him.
‘He went out for one last swim before breakfast. I was on the third floor lanai,‘ Gale Smiley told the on Tuesday. ‘It happened right in front of me. No words can express…
‘He hollered out. He was conscious. He was trying to get help but he sat way too long. He wasn‘t that far out. I could see him out there.‘
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Mrs Smiley told she ‘walked out and people were pointing out in the water in this area where there‘s usually a lot of turtles‘ and ‘snorkeling‘.
‘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,‘ Mrs Smiley told ABC News. ‘I thought, that can‘t be him. So I watched for awhile, and the police rescue unit wave runner started over in our area.‘
But she was in shock when she recognized his bathing suit. He was found unresponsive in the water, brought to shore on a jet ski and given CPR.
‘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,‘ Mrs Smiley added to ABC News.
Reports state there were warning signs set up along the beach but Gale believes there were none in the area where Mr Smiley was attacked.
Mrs Smiley said she was later told about a tiger shark warning but notes the diving and water-skiing enthusiast was extra careful about staying safe in the water.
‘He was an advanced diver. If a sign was posted at that location – he‘s a very intelligent diver, very astute, he‘s been diving all over. He was very conscious of safety. He would not have gone into the water,‘ Mrs Smiley continued to the Sacramento Bee.
‘They should‘ve had that warning. It‘s an unfortunate thing. I come from a family of first responders. He should have been made aware when there was a problem.
‘Safety has to be a bigger priority. Tom would like it if lessons were learned from this.‘
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But Mrs Smiley insists she isn‘t blaming anyone.
The couple was married 42 years and Gale calls her spouse ‘absolutely my best friend‘.
The widowed woman shared that their family has been hit hard by the tragedy but her husband would not have wanted them to hold back from doing the activities they love because of his demise.
‘He was such a great man. We‘re both from Southern California, we‘re high school sweethearts. We have three kids, six grandchildren. He was their absolute role model. He taught them to be a good human being, a good friend. They‘re really devastated,‘ Mrs Smiley continued.
‘He loved the outdoors – we were out every weekend. He lived and breathed for his family. He wanted to show them what it meant to be a good person, a good friend, a good human being. He always said, “Try everything. Be adventurous. Don‘t be afraid”…He said, “I‘m going to try everything I can”.‘
And try everything her did, including racing his vintage 1965 Corvette on tracks across Northern California in the advanced ProX class with Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).
‘He loved racing. He loved cars. He got his family into racing – all of us, including me,‘ Mrs Smiley shared. ‘He had a zest for life. Everyone that knew him, everyone said that he was the best person they knew. He was loved by a lot of people. We‘ve had a lot of outpouring from across the country.‘
Witness Allison Keller told that Smiley suffered horrific injuries from the attack.
‘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,‘ she said.
‘And then I got looking closer and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing. There was no blood or anything.‘
Smiley could not be revived and succumbed to his injuries.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Smiley was a long-time local optometrist, and a big family man, according to friends.
He had just retired this year.
It is the first fatal shark attack in Hawaii since 2015, when a snorkeler was killed in Maui.
Hawaii‘s Department of Land and Natural Resources put up shark warning signs for half a mile on either side of the area where the man was attacked, which is protocol. They remained in place until Sunday.
This is the sixth shark attack in Hawaii this year, according to the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources. There were only three total all of last year.
A woman was bit while swimming off the coast of Oahu earlier this month. She suffered injuries to her arm and hand.