"Crocodile Hunter" Death Extremely Rare, Caught on Film

Stephanie Peatling in Sydney, Australia
for National Geographic News
Updated September 6, 2006

An initial postmortem examination has confirmed that Australian environmentalist, zoo owner, and television personality Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed when a stingray's venomous barb pierced his heart at about 11 a.m., local time, on Monday.

(Related video: about stingrays and their poisonous potential.)

Police investigating the incident told a packed press conference yesterday that his death was the result of a highly unusual accident.

"We're not going into the detail, but there's definitely no surprises," a police spokesperson said.

"Everyone knows how he died."

Caught on Film

A coroner was to begin an examination yesterday and will consider video footage of the attack, which happened as Irwin swam over Batt Reef, off the Australian state of Queensland (map of Australia).

Irwin's friend, director, and producer, John Stainton, who was on Irwin's boat Croc One when the attack happened, said yesterday at the press conference that it is too early to release the footage of his friend's fatal encounter to the public. Last night on CNN's Larry King Live talk show he went further.

"I mean, it should be destroyed," Stainton told King. "When that is finally released [from police custody], it will never see the light of day. Ever. Ever. I actually saw it, but I don't want to see it again."

The stingray attack was caught on film during the production of a new television special Irwin was making with his eight-year-old daughter, Bindi Sue. The documentary was to have been screened in the United States next year.

The footage shows Irwin pulling the stingray's barb out of his chest before losing consciousness, Stainton says.

"It's a very hard thing to watch, because you're actually witnessing somebody die … and it's terrible," Stainton said at the press conference.

Continued on Next Page >>


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