Steve Irwin calmly said that he was dying during his final moments, his cameraman recounted. Justin Lyons was with the Crocodile Hunter when a massive stingray stabbed Irwin wildly with its tail “hundreds of times.”
“I’m dying,” the Australian icon uttered upon realising that his injuries were fatal.
In an interview with Studio 10, Lyons, who has worked with Irwin for 15 years, remembered what happened during Irwin’s final moments during that fateful day in September 2006.
They were diving the Great Barrier Reef to shoot a nature documentary when they encountered an “eight-foot-wide, massive stingray.” The underwater cameraman told the talk show that they were “looking for something to do.”
Stingrays, according to Lyons, are normally very calm. If they didn’t want a person around, they would just swim away. But as they were filming the stingray, it started stabbing Irwin.
The stingray might have thought Irwin was a target shot so it started to attack him. Lyons said he didn’t even know it had caused any damage until he panned his camera and saw the huge pool blood that Irwin was standing on.
The first thing that came to his head was they had to get out of the water because they were attracting sharks.
Contrary to what was reported at that time, Irwin didn’t pull out the stingray’s barb from his chest. The barb was a jagged blade of about a foot in size that extended from the middle of the stingray’s tail. It didn’t come out, and therefore Irwin didn’t have to pull it out from his body.
Irwin thought it had punctured its lungs. And when he was thrown over their inflatable boat, they had learned that he also suffered from a two-inch wide injury in his heart.
Irwin had an extraordinary threshold for pain so when he was in pain, Lyons said he knew that it was an excruciating one.
Everyone was telling him that it was going to be all right, but Irwin knew that it was his end.
He calmly looked at Lyons and simply said, “I’m dying,” and those were the last words that he said.
Lyons said that he would never release the footage of the accident; he’s not even sure that it exists.
“Out of respect for his family, I would say no,” he told the hosts. “I don’t know what’s happened to it and I hope it would never see the light of day.”
Irwin died on Sep 4, 2006 at the age of 44. He left a wife, Terri, and their two children, Bindi and Robert.