Steve Irwin was a very special kind of person. The gregarious Australian spent his life bettering the lives of animals all over the world, while also educating and entertaining the rest of us in the process, and he was universally adored for it.
Although his area of work was inherently dangerous, his untimely death at the age of 44 in 2006 was still shocking.
When you consider that this man often engaged in activities such as wrestling crocodiles, swimming with sharks, and handling poisonous snakes, his untimely demise at the hands of a stingray comes as something of a shock.
The news of Irwin’s tragic death was met with an outpouring of condolences and tributes from his many fans all across the world.
The fact that the animal hero died protecting his passion gave some comfort.
In fact, Irwin reportedly had a protocol in place so that the cameras would never stop rolling, even if he found himself in dire danger.
Irwin’s IMDb biography, Tommy Donovan, was quoted as saying, “He tells his camera crew to always be filming. If he needs help he will ask for it. Even if he is eaten by a shark or croc, the main thing he wants is for it be filmed. If he died he would be sad if no one got it on tape.”
This is how the tragic event of September 4, 2006, took place near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
It is said that Irwin chose to film a stingray segment for his daughter Bindi’s show Bindi the Jungle Girl because filming for his show Ocean’s Deadliest had been delayed due to inclement weather.
Director and close friend of Irwin’s John Stainton recalled that on the day of the tragedy, the three of them had been bored at their hotel and decided to take a small boat to Batt Reef to film some footage.
Stainton explained, “Suddenly, he expressed interest in encountering some typically harmless stingrays. It should have been an innocuous encounter for a children’s program.”
Irwin and Lyons entered the water up to their chests after seeing a 220 lb stingray resting on the ocean floor, hoping the ray would swim away from them.
However, as Steve crossed over the ray, it raised its tail to strike, dealing “hundreds of strikes in a few seconds.”
While the cameras kept running, Justin helped Steve get back on board, and they rushed off in the direction of Croc One, the main ship.
“He was struggling to breathe,” Justin recalled. “Even if we had reached an emergency ward immediately, it’s likely we couldn’t have saved him due to the extensive damage to his heart.”
The Mirror reports that while trying to stop his bleeding, Irwin’s crew pleaded with him to stay with them. When Steve realized the extent of his wounds, he muttered his final words: “I’m dying.”
After returning to Croc One, Steve had an hour of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from Justin.
Unfortunately, by the time the paramedics came, the beloved zookeeper, famous for his enthusiasm, humor, and daring deeds in the service of wildlife conservation, had been pronounced dead.
Somewhere, film of the entire catastrophe, from the instant Irwin was stung to the moment he died, is reported to still exist.
In the days following his friend’s death, John Stainton remarked of the footage, “I mean, it should be destroyed. Once it’s released [by the coroner], it should never see the light of day. Never. Never. I’ve seen it, but I don’t want to see it again.”
Authorities revealed in 2007 that they had destroyed all but one copy of the movie.
Steve’s wife Terri Irwin said in 2018 that she had never seen the actual film she was entrusted with. “Why would I? I know the circumstances of my husband’s passing.”
According to the reports, Terri also stated that a police vault still contains a copy of the film.
I know that I personally miss watching Steve Irwin’s broadcasts very much.
- 12 Years After Steve Irwin’s Death, His Wife Terri Revealed A Shocking Secret He Had Told Her
- Robert Irwin Gets Bitten In The Face By Same Species Snake Which Attacked Late Dad Steve Irwin
- Bindi Irwin Is On The Path To Recovery After Ten Years Of Indescribable Misery
He was a role model till the end, and the fact that his legacy endures today is a tribute to his immense fame.
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