Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Sean Chamberlin - Monday, 4 September 2006, 08:45 AM
  This is bizarre..but does once again emphasize that you have to respect wild animals. Much as I loved him, Steve Irwin often crossed the boundary between respect and antagonism towards animals. Unfortunately, the animals had the last word...

Steve Irwin's freak death filmed
Ian Gerard and Tony Koch

FOOTAGE of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin being fatally attacked by a stingray on the Great Barrier Reef has been handed to Queensland police as fans worldwide come to grips with the "freak" death.

Irwin, 44, was killed almost instantly when the stingray stabbed him in the heart with its poisonous 20cm barb as he snorkelled off Port Douglas, in north Queensland, yesterday morning.

His American-born wife, Terri, was trekking in Tasmania's Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park when the news broke of her husband's death and was last night being raced back to Queensland with her two children Bindi, 8, and Bob, 2.

"The footage shows him swimming in the water, the ray stopped and turned and that was it," said boatowner Peter West, who viewed the footage afterwards.

"There was no blood in the water, it was not that obvious ... something happened with this animal that made it rear and he was at the wrong position at the wrong time and if it hit him anywhere else we would not be talking about a fatality."

Irwin was shooting a documentary on dangerous marine life, in shallow water at Batt Reef, about 32 nautical miles offshore, at about 11am.

Tributes poured in from around the world for Irwin, a renowned environmentalist who was estimated to be earning more than $4million a year from his Queensland reptile park, Australia Zoo.

Footage of the attack shows Irwin swimming above a 2.5m stingray before it turns on him and sends a poisonous barb through his heart.

Irwin was pulled from the water by a cameraman and a crewman, put on an inflatable tender and taken to a support boat about 500m away.

Crewmembers say he was barely conscious in the minutes after the sting and died as his production team rushed him to his vessel, Croc One, and to a nearby island for emergency treatment.

A charter dive boat crew desperately tried to revive him on the beach, but were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards by Queensland Rescue Service officers, who had flown to the area by helicopter.

Irwin's body was last night flown to Cairns for a post-mortem examination as police seized all available evidence and interviewed witnesses in order to prepare a report for the Coroner.

A coronial inquest is expected.

Producer, director and life-long friend John Stainton yesterday said Irwin did not provoke the stingray and was simply swimming above it when he was attacked.

"He came over the top of a stingray and the stingray barb went up and into his chest and into his heart," Stainton said.

"It's likely that he possibly died instantly when the barb hit him, and I hope he felt no pain."

One of Irwin's contemporaries, internationally known cameraman and spearfisherman Ben Cropp, was in his own boat off Port Douglas when Irwin was killed.

"I have just spoken to a cameraman friend who was there and has seen the footage," Mr Cropp told The Australian last night.

"He was up in the shallow water, probably 1.5m to 2m deep, following a bull ray which was about a metre across the body - probably weighing about 100kg, and it had quite a large spine.

"The cameraman was filming in the water."

Mr Cropp said the stingray was spooked and went into defensive mood.

"It probably felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead, and it felt there was danger and it baulked.

"It stopped and went into a defensive mode and swung its tail with the spike.

"Steve unfortunately was in a bad position and copped it.

"I have had that happen to me, and I can visualise it - when a ray goes into defensive, you get out of the way.

"Steve was so close he could not get away, so if you can imagine it - being right beside the ray and it swinging its spine upwards from underneath Steve - and it hit him.

"I have seen that sort of reaction with rays - with their tail breaking the water, such is the force."

Internationally renowned jellyfish sting expert Jamie Seymour was on board Irwin's boat at the time.

Irwin had decided yesterday morning to shoot a segment of film on stingrays for a new television program that will be hosted by his daughter, Bindi.

Surf Lifesavers national marine stinger adviser Lisa-Ann Gershwin said there had only been 17 fatal stingray attacks worldwide.

"I think it's just an extraordinary freak accident that has happened to his heart," she said.

"A lot of people will be afraid by this, but they need to keep in mind that this was a freak accident, it was a terrible tragedy but it is not common."

Dr Gershwin said stingray stings to the legs or arms were common and, while painful, were not normally considered dangerous. She said there were many different types of stingrays, with barbs on their tails up to 30cm long, and they poisoned victims with a range of toxins.

Mr West said the barb was like a "very rough knife" and while fatal stingray stings had been known to occur, filming and swimming alongside the animal was commonplace among marine filmmakers.

Mr Cropp said he was told that the strike was "close to the heart and Steve had a cardiac arrest".

"At first they treated him as being wounded, but he didn't survive unfortunately," he said.

"The second boat in attendance raced in to give assistance and they radioed for help.

"They went into Low Isle and met the chopper which took Steve's body out."

In September 2004, Mr Cropp was attacked by a tiger shark on Bott Reef. "The rays in Australia and particularly in the north are not like those on the Cayman Islands, which are very quiet and allow people to ride on their backs," he said.

"At this time of the year they are on the lookout for tiger sharks and are very frisky.

"They are not aggressive. In fact they are very timid, but they defend themselves by throwing their tail spine upwards, and there is a spike on the tip about eight inches long which they can use like a dagger."

Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Denise Soto - Monday, 4 September 2006, 10:10 AM
  I was very taken aback when the news announced the death of Steve Irwin. As Dr. Chamberlein, I too watced his croc hunter shows on several occasions and stated that he was playing with fate. I never imagined though that his death would come from a sting ray. I was stung by a sting ray years ago, and am alive. I just can't believe out of all the stunts that he's done his death was this way. I was saddened by his death though. He seemed like such a good person.
Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Jenny Paik - Monday, 4 September 2006, 10:59 AM

sad, i know the sting ray was innocent, meaning it was only "doing it's job"  defending itself, but i felt that the scientist were defending the animal a bit too much... human life is important too....

Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Kim Tate - Monday, 4 September 2006, 01:02 PM

I believe that what the reporters are try to emphasize is that the stingray's actions were involuntary due to natural instincts, therefore, it is an individuals responsibility to respect the animal and keep distance between themselves and the animal. Human life is important, that is why Steve should have respected the predictable behavior of the stingray in order to keep his own life protected.

Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Mary Volland-Chapluk - Monday, 4 September 2006, 02:14 PM

When I saw this story pop up on last night I was so utterly saddened.  Steve Irwin has been a household icon in my family.   He passionately brought a wild world to us that we normally would never have been able to experience, and for that he was one of this planet's great environmentalists.  I have been printing out pictures of him to create an homage in my classroom.  sad

Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Andrew Miles - Monday, 4 September 2006, 09:27 PM
  When I heard the news at first I did not believe it.  I have watched Steve Irwin's show many times and I have always seen him as some what super human.  I never believed that he could get hurt let alone killed by an animal.  A few years ago when everyone get all uptight about him having his baby with him while playing with a crocodile I did not think it was that big of a deal.  I believed he was invincible and that he would never allow his child to get hurt.  This is extremely sad but it shows how no one is invincible.  I am deeply saddened and will be praying for his family.
Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Ana Albarran - Thursday, 7 September 2006, 03:23 PM
       My husband actually told me about what happened to Steve Irwin. I watched some of his shows on TV, and later on, I watched on the news when he put his baby close to a crocodile. That shows that he was not afraid that the crocodile could hurt his baby because he was very confident on what he was doing. I heard in the news that Steve Irwin was afraid of the ocean like getting inside the water because he felt very confident working in land with crocodiles, and see what happened to him, he died because he got into the water. It is sad what happened, but nobody knows when something bad is going to happen to you.
Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Jahn Vouis - Monday, 4 September 2006, 10:37 PM
  This news came to me this morning and I was very shocked. Steve Irwin lived his life in very close proximity to dangerous animals and he was killed by one. I could tell by listening to him on the teli that he really loved animals.
Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Kristen Smeltz - Tuesday, 5 September 2006, 06:13 PM

I was very sad to hear that the world lost Steve Irwin.  It seems kind of strange that out of all the animals he interacted with, this would be the one to take his life.  I am reminded of Roy Horn's accident with the tiger.  It seems that many people believe that we are superior to all animals and that somehow we can control what they do.  We need to teach our children to respect animals, to not see them all as pets, and to educate them of what animals are capable of.  When ever I have entered the ocean, I have always felt that I was entering a world where I did not have the upper hand. 

Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Ian J. Gillis - Saturday, 9 September 2006, 12:56 PM

Thank you Kristen, I do believe that you are right we need to teach people to respect the wild. It is unfortunate that The Croc Hunter, Steve Irwin was killed and Roy Horn accident with the tiger although these individuals had the respect of the wild although when you put yourself to close to danger of the wild or bring the wild to you this can happen. Steve Irwin is a conversationalist, although I do believe that he put himself into situations that he shouldn't have. When you mess with nature, it can bite, sting, or hurt, in this case kill.

Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by Bruce Reeves - Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 11:52 AM

I always knew that "freak's" life would be cut short at the hands of a wild animal but honestly I never would have thought by a stingray.

In my life I've had everything from two alligators (one grew to be almost 5 feet long!) to savanah and nile monitors, sugar gliders(kinda like flying squirrls)snakes of all kinds and even a bat(not all at once mind you)and theres one very important thing I learned about them, They are and forever will be wild animals and the moment you forget that and stop respecting them as such, they will kill you!!

I was appauled to see a clip with him in a 13 foot alligators pen holding his one month old son on his hip and at the same time jumping around and feeding the gator.

I mean dont get me wrong I feel awful and this indeed was a tradgedy but to me he simply stopped respecting the wild creatures and yes Sean you're right, the animals did get the last laugh.

Re: Stingray Kills the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin
by shannon yoon - Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 08:14 PM
  this is such a devastating story. It's very sad that it had to happen, but I wasn't suprised that it did. He must have enjoyed what he did, but he also should have been aware of it happening. To me, there were so many other incidents that I thought was far more dangerous. Watching his shows sometimes made me feel bad to the animals, but I really didn't want his life to be taken by it. I wonder if there's anyone out there that would do what Irwin did..