Steve Irwin’s final moments were captured on camera and revealed by a longtime friend, Justin Lyon, who had collaborated with the renowned Crocodile Hunter on various projects, including the documentary “Ocean’s Deadliest” in 2006. The tragic incident unfolded during a filming expedition on the Great Barrier Reef.
The fateful encounter occurred when Irwin and Lyon spotted a giant stingray, prompting them to film the creature. Irwin, expressing his desire to capture “one last shot,” approached the stingray. Suddenly, the stingray struck him in the chest with its tail, delivering “hundreds of strikes in a few seconds.” Initially thought to have punctured a lung, further investigation revealed that the sting had reached Irwin’s heart.
Recalling the traumatic incident on Australia’s Studio 10, Lyon described how the seemingly routine filming turned perilous. “I had the camera and thought this was going to be a great shot. But all of a sudden, the stingray propped on its front and started stabbing Steve with its tail. There were hundreds of strikes within just a few seconds,” he recounted. Lyon emphasised the severity of the injury, stating, “[The sting] went through his chest like a hot knife through butter.”
As the crew rushed Irwin to the nearest medical facility, Lyon vividly remembered the chaotic moments. “It probably thought Steve’s shadow was a tiger shark, who feeds on them pretty regularly, so it started to attack him,” he explained. During the frantic journey, Lyon urged another crew member to apply pressure to the wound, shouting words of encouragement to Irwin, such as, ‘Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on.’ However, Irwin calmly responded, “I’m dying,” making it his last uttered words.
Despite Lyon’s attempts to revive him through CPR, Irwin was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Lyon expressed the team’s hope for a miracle but acknowledged the swift confirmation of Irwin’s passing.
After the incident, the crew followed Irwin’s urging to continue filming, and the tapes were later handed over to authorities for investigation. Following the completion of the inquiry, all copies of the distressing footage were destroyed, except for one given to Irwin’s wife, Terri Irwin.
Terri, addressing the fabricated video that circulated on YouTube, shared her reluctance to watch it. “After Steve died, 100 million viewers watched video of his death that was released on YouTube. That film was a complete fabrication exploiting people’s sadness. I have never watched the real footage. Why would I? I know how my husband died, and I was relieved that the children weren’t on the boat as they usually would be; it would have been horrendous if they had witnessed it.”
Another close friend, John Stainton, who also worked with Irwin, affirmed that the true footage of Irwin’s death would “never see the light of day,” expressing regret for having viewed it.