At the age of 6, Steve Irwin caught a poisonous brown snake. Normally, any child (even an adult) would panic and run as fast as possible. But not Irwin. On the contrary, the snake created a spark in the Australian boy’s soul, igniting a passion for natural animals. Just 3 years later, Irwin started his journey to conquer his passion, starting with… a fight with a crocodile.
Irwin is passionate about them, all animals, and he has made masterful methods of handling them his career. In 1991, Irwin began managing the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park – which was opened by his parents in 1970, and later renamed the Australia Zoo. He became a big name, famous for his documentary series Crocodile Hunter (The Crocodile Hunter) period 1997 – 2004.
Steve Irwin – the world famous zoologist at one time
In 2006, Irwin became the most famous zoologist in the world. He has a fulfilling life, married to Terri Raines, has 2 children, a son and a daughter, Robert and Bindi. Then he decided to make a documentary at Batt Reef in Queensland – a place he himself underestimated considering the dangers of his previous projects.
But Irwin couldn’t have imagined that just one sea animal – not even considered dangerous – would cause him to die forever, on September 4, 2006.
“Steve Irwin is dead” – this was almost a message that the whole world could not believe at that time, leading to countless speculations. But only one person witnessed it all from start to finish – Justin Lyons, Irwin’s cameraman. Eight years after Irwin’s death, Lyons spoke about his death.
Justin Lyons is one of Irwin’s closest friends. They worked together for 15 years, getting along so well that Irwin considered Lyons his “best friend” and his “right hand man”.
“Crocodile Hunter” is Irwin’s nickname, based on the famous documentary of the same name
Lyons recalls, Irwin was very excited about the project that time, given the prospect of facing the ocean’s most destructive creatures – like sharks and sea snakes. “Those are the things that would make the average person tremble, but Steve likes them. He’s excited about them,” – Lyons recalled.
There are 8 days left before filming and they need to find tiger sharks, but the weather is bad. “Steve would be like an animal in a cage if nothing was done. So he said ‘Come on, let’s see if there’s anything.’ Finishing the sentence, we jumped out of the lifeboat and dived into the sea to pass the time.”
It didn’t take long before the two encountered a stingray nearly 2.5m long. That would be a very good scene for a documentary. And with their long experience, the two plan, shoot and shoot a lot of fish scenes.
“Swallow rays are usually very docile. If they don’t want you to come near, they will swim away – a quick swim is different.” Lyons explained.
Everything went smoothly, until the last scene. At this point, the stingray is swimming between the two, and Irwin intends to swim towards the camera, while Lyons captures the fish swimming away.
And disaster happened.
The chest is torn like a hot knife cuts butter
“Suddenly, the fish leaned over and stabbed wildly with its tail, as if a hundred times in a few seconds,” – Lyons recalls the horrifying scene, emphasizing that the stingray is a very powerful animal that has remained in the wild for the past 60 million years.
“Perhaps it thought Steve’s shadow was a tiger shark – which hunts them down – and attacked him.”
In that situation, Lyons persisted in shooting. “We have a set of rules. Even if Steve gets hurt, I still have to calmly record,” – Lyons shared.
After the fish left, Lyons looked back and was startled to see that the fish’s tail had gone straight through Irwin’s chest. “Steve was floating in a pool of blood, and I realized something was wrong.”
The most important thing then is to get out of the water, because blood will attract sharks. Some sources say that Irwin pulled the tail out by himself, resulting in excessive blood loss, but Lyons insists that was not the case.
“The tail pierced his chest like a hot knife cutting butter.”
At first, Irwin thought that Irwin’s lung was punctured. Because, the wound is only about 5cm from the heart, and the blood is pouring out like a stream.
“Steve is very good at taking pain, so when I saw him in that kind of pain, I understood that the pain was excruciating.” Lyons added. “Even if we were able to get him to the emergency room at that time, I think it would be difficult to save him when the damage is so great.”
“I’m going to die”
After getting Irwin on board, one of the crew members tightly covered the wound, while Lyons could only encourage Irwin to remember his family and try.
“He just calmly looked at me and said ‘I’m dying’ – those were the last words Steve could say.”
Steve Irwin has done countless stunts with wild animals
The crew hurried back to the main ship, and began performing CPR on Irwin. “There’s always hope. We were expecting a miracle, and actually did CPR on him for an hour afterwards.”
But then everything ended. When Irwin was brought to the doctor, the message back was clear. “They said he died after just 10 seconds of observation.”
After the tragedy occurred, criticism emerged that Irwin acted too irresponsibly. However, according to biotoxicologist Jamie Seymour, who was also on the ship with Irwin that day, that was not the case.
“They weren’t there, so how do they know what happened?” Jamie Seymour insisted.
In fact, although they were primarily looking for tiger sharks, Seymour and Irwin discussed the dangers that stingrays can pose. “It was a really bad accident. As long as he was a few meters away from that location, or appeared from a different direction, or the Sun didn’t shine in that direction, it wouldn’t have happened. after all, stingrays are the very cowardly fish of the ocean. They’re not a problem to humans, except in a few rare situations.”