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Shark Attack Kills California Man Thomas Smiley Who Was Bitten While Swimming Off Maui Coast In Hawaii

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Thomas Smiley was unconscious and missing a leg when he was rescued and brought to the shore. He later succumbed to injuries, which authorities thought were likely caused by a tiger shark attack.  ( Pixabay )

A 65-year-old man from California was killed by a shark while he was swimming in Hawaii beach. Shark warning signs are now posted in the Ka'anapali Beach Park area on Maui, where the fatal shark attack happened on Saturday.

Victim Swimming About 60 Yards From Shore

The victim, Thomas Smiley, from Granite Bay in California, was in a vacation with his wife in Maui.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said the man was swimming about 60 yards from shore when the attack happened.

According to Chief Jason Redulla of Hawaii's Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, witnesses called 911 when they saw Smiley in distress after the shark encounter.

The man was unconscious when he was pulled from the water and brought to the shore on a jet ski. He was missing one leg, which the shark has apparently bitten off.

"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," said Allison Keller, who witnessed the incident.

Rescuers performed CPR but they could no longer revive Smiley.

"Unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries, which we believe at this point may have been a shark attack," Redulla said.

Likely Bitten By A Tiger Shark

It was not clear what type of shark was behind the attack but experts think it was likely a tiger shark. Shark expert Michael Domeier said there is a great tiger shark habitat on Maui and the area has been a hot spot in the Hawaiian Islands for tiger shark attacks.

The tiger shark is regarded as among the most dangerous of shark species. It ranks second to the white shark in the number of reported attacks on humans. The shark-monitoring group International Shark Attack File warned that the creature's large size and voraciousness make it a formidable ocean predator.

The incident would be the sixth shark attack in Hawaii this year, according to Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources, which tracks attacks in the state. It tracked only three last year. The most recent incident involved a woman who was bitten off the coast of Ouahu on May 8.

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