Cameraman speaks out about Steve Irwin’s final hour
It’s been eight years since the world’s most beloved Crocodile Hunter died in a freak accident via stingray barb to the heart. Now, for the first time, Steve Irwin’s cameraman and diving partner is speaking out about the Animal Planet star’s tragic death.
In an interview with Australian morning show Studio 10 on Sunday, Justin Lyons recalled, “We’re saying to him things like, 'Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on. And he just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I’m dying,’ and that was the last thing he said.”
Irwin died in 2006 at the age of 44 while filming off the coast of Australia.
According to Lyons, rumors that the wildlife advocate provoked the stingray were false. The man whom Irwin often called his “right hand man” and "best mate" said the ray was swimming away when, almost inexplicably, it flipped out.
“All of a sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds,” he said. “It probably thought that Steve’s shadow was a tiger shark, which feeds on them very regularly. … I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away, I didn’t even know it had caused any damage. It wasn’t until I panned the camera back, that Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood, that I realized something had gone wrong.”
Lyons described the injury in detail. You won’t be able to unread. Ready? “It’s a jagged, sharp barb and it went through his chest like a hot knife through butter. He thought it had punctured his lung. He had about a two-inch-wide injury over his heart with blood and fluid coming out of it.”
Lyons also said that Irwin — who had a freakishly high pain tolerance — was in unbearable agony, not only because of, ya know, the stingray barb to the heart, but also because the ray’s barb is venomous.
Lyons, who pulled Irwin from the water and performed CPR, said he doesn’t know where the footage of the deadly accident is, and he hopes it never surfaces. Irwin’s wife Terri told Access Hollywood the video was destroyed.