32-year-old Houston man who died in a shark attack over the weekend while scuba diving off Western Australia was remembered Sunday by his sisters as “unique” and “one of a kind.”
Police said Thomas Wainwright was diving alone some 500 yards north of Rottnest Island when he was attacked by a great white shark.
Wainwright’s friends, a couple from Houston, had stayed on the boat. They saw a flurry of bubbles and blood in the water and Wainwright’s body surfaced minutes later.
The shark, a 10-foot great white, surfaced and even nudged the dive boat as Wainwright’s friends hauled in his remains and powered for shore, officials said.
His sisters, Brenda Wainwright and Wanda Brannon, spoke to local news station WMBB-TV.
“It’s devastating. It’s hard to even wrap your head around. I can’t believe he’s gone,” said Brenda Wainwright.
She described her brother as “unique … that rare combination of incredibly intelligent, very kind, great sense of humor.”
“He was one of a kind,” Brannon told WMBB. “He’s more than just a quick news spot. He was our brother and we loved him. He will be missed.”
The victim’s father, George, told KHOU 11 News by phone that his son died doing what he loved most – scuba diving.
” I just want everybody to know that it’s a person a very good person a person with a lot of future,” George Wainwright said. “He enjoyed life. He liked the fish, liked the water. He grew up on the water…”
Wainwright called his dad on Friday, excited about a diving trip at Rottnest Island.
“He wanted us to call him on the computer the next day so he could talk to everybody, so he could stay in touch,” said George Wainwright. “We stayed in touch constantly.”
Wainwright grew up in Florida, but moved to Houston several years ago to attend college at Texas A&M Galveston. He graduated with a degree in marine systems engineering in 2007.
Vijay Panchang was one of Wainright’s college professors.
“Many of the faculty members I talked to are devastated by this news. What a way for a young life to go,” Panchang said.
Wainwright called Panchang for a recommendation letter a few months ago to get his work visa approved to go Down Under.
“He clearly seemed excited by this opportunity to go to Australia,” Panchang remembered.
Wainwright moved from Houston to Australia six months ago to take a job as a project manager with Oceaneering International. Brannon said he loved Australia’s beautiful landscapes and relished his new adventures there. He had recently emailed family members about returning to Florida for a Christmas visit.