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That's really sad...but unfortunately it doesn't surprise me. I always wondered how he managed to keep himself alive with some of the stunts he was pulling. And that is essentially what he was doing - he was almost like a stuntman out there.
R.I.P. My prayers out to his wife and kids and the rest of his family.
"If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy
CAIRNS, Australia - Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.
Irwin was at Batt Reef, off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland state, shooting a segment for a series called "Ocean's Deadliest" when he swam too close to one of the animals, which have a poisonous bard on their tails, his friend and colleague John Stainton said.
"He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.
Crew members aboard the boat, Croc One, called emergency services in the nearest city, Cairns, and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time later, Stainton said.
Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchword "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter." First broadcast in Australia in 1992, the program was picked up by the Discovery network, catapulting Irwin to international celebrity.
He rode his image into a feature film, 2002's "The Crocodile Hunters: Collision Course" and developed the wildlife park that his parents opened, Australia Zoo, into a major tourist attraction.
"The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet," Stainton told reporters in Cairns. "He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, 'Crocs Rule!'"
Prime Minister John Howard, who hand-picked Irwin to attend a gala barbecue to honor P resident Bush when he visited in 2003, said he was "shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death."
"It's a huge loss to Australia," Howard told reporters. "He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people."
Irwin, who made a trademark of hovering dangerously close to untethered crocodiles and leaping on their backs, spoke in rapid-fire bursts with a thick Australian accent and was almost never seen without his uniform of khaki shorts and shirt and heavy boots.
His ebullience was infectious and Australian officials sought him out for photo opportunities and to promote Australia internationally.
Irwin's public image was dented, however, in 2004 when he caused an uproar by holding his infant son in one arm while feeding large crocodiles inside a zoo pen. Irwin claimed at the time there was no danger to the child, and authorities declined to charge Irwin with violating safety regulations.
Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken against him.
Stingrays have a serrated, toxin-loaded barb, or spine, on the top of their tail. The barb, which can be up to 10 inches long, flexes if a ray is frightened. Stings usually occur to people when they step on or swim too close to a ray and can be excruciatingly painful but are rarely fatal, said University of Queensland marine neuroscientist Shaun Collin.
Collin said he suspected Irwin died because the barb pierced under his ribcage and directly into his heart.
"It was extraordinarily bad luck. It's not easy to get spined by a stingray and to be killed by one is very rare," Collin said.
News of Irwin's death spread quickly, and tributes flowed from all quarters of society.
At Australia Zoo at Beerwah, south Queensland, floral tributes were dropped at the entrance, where a huge fake crocodile gapes. Drivers honked their horns as they passed.
"Steve, from all God's creatures, thank you. Rest in peace," was written on a card with a bouquet of native flowers.
"We're all very shocked. I don't know what the zoo will do without him. He's done so much for us, the environment and it's a big loss," said Paula Kelly, a local resident and volunteer at the zoo, after dropping off a wreath at the gate.
Stainton said Irwin's American-born wife Terri, from Eugene, Ore., had been informed of his death, and had told their daughter Bindi Sue, 8, and son Bob, who will turn 3 in December.
The couple met when she went on vacation in Australia in 1991 and visited Irwin's Australia Zoo; they were married six months later. Sometimes referred to as the "Crocodile Huntress," she costarred on her husband's television show and in his 2002 movie.
Though it was almost inevitable, it's still too bad.
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"Crocodile Hunter" Irwin dies
Mon Sep 4, 2006 2:57am ET
By Paul Tait
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won worldwide acclaim as TV's khaki-clad "Crocodile Hunter", was killed by a stingray barb through the chest on Monday while diving off the country's northeast coast.
Witnesses and emergency officials said the freak accident happened while Irwin, 44, was filming an underwater documentary off Port Douglas in northern Queensland.
"Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest," said local diving operator Steve Edmondson, whose Poseidon boats were out on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred.
A helicopter rushed paramedics to nearby Low Isles where Irwin was taken for treatment, but he was dead before they arrived, police said.
"He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury," Edmondson said.
Fellow-Australian wildlife filmmaker David Ireland said he was shocked and saddened by Irwin's death, adding that a stingray's barb could be as deadly as a rifle bayonet.
"They have one or two barbs in the tails which are not only coated in toxic material but are also like a bayonet, like a bayonet on a rifle," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting radio.
"If it hits any vital organs it's as deadly as a bayonet," Ireland said.
Known around the world for his catchphrase "Crikey" during close encounters with wild animals, Irwin made almost 50 documentaries which appeared on the cable TV channel Animal Planet. He became a virtual global industry generating books, interactive games and even toy action figures.
GREW UP WITH REPTILES
Born on February 22, 1962, in the southern Australian city of Melbourne, Irwin moved to tropical Queensland where his parents ran a small reptile and fauna park.
He grew up near crocodiles, trapping and removing them from populated areas and releasing them in his parent's park. He took over the park in 1991 and renamed it the "Australia Zoo".
Irwin became famous for his seemingly death-defying skill with wild animals, including crocodiles and snakes.
Irwin met his U.S.-born wife Terri at the zoo and the footage of their honeymoon -- which they spent trapping crocodiles -- formed the basis of his first "Crocodile Hunter" documentary.
Later shows had a worldwide audience of 200 million, or 10 times the population of Australia.
Terri became Irwin's business partner and frequent on-screen collaborator. They had two children, Bindi Sue and Bob Clarence.
News of Irwin's death shocked ordinary Australians, while government and opposition lawmakers rushed to issue statements of condolence within two hours of the first reports of his death.
Queensland Tourism Minister Margaret Keech told Sky Television. "It's a dreadful loss for the tourism industry and for nature conservation.
"Everybody who met Steve was impressed with his energy and his enthusiasm, he was a real Aussie larrikin," she said.
Irwin won a global following for his dare-devil antics but also triggered outrage in 2004 by holding his then one-month-old son while feeding a snapping crocodile at his Australian zoo.
The Crocodile Hunter series ended after he was criticized for the incident with his young son and also for allegedly disturbing whales, seals and penguins while filming in Antarctica.
Irwin boasted that he had never been bitten by a venomous snake or seriously bitten by a crocodile, although admitted his worst injuries had been inflicted by parrots.
"I don't know what it is with parrots but they always bite me," Irwin once said. "A cockatoo once tried to rip the end of my nose off. I don't know what they've got against me."
(Additional reporting by Michael Perry in SYDNEY)
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A DOCTOR and witnesses have told of the desperate efforts to save Australian icon Steve Irwin after the Crocodile Hunter was struck in the chest by a stingray barb today.
Irwin, 44, died this morning after being fatally injured while filming a nature documentary off Queensland.
The news has shocked the nation and prompted a rush of tributes from politicians and the public alike.
Irwin's wife Terri was in Tasmania at the time of the tragedy and had to be contacted by police with the terrible news.
The couple's daughter Bindi, 8, was with her father in north Queensland, Irwin's manager John Stainton said from Cairns.
Choking back tears, Mr Stainton said Irwin had gone “over the top of a stingray and a stingray's barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heart”.
"He possibly died instantly when the barb hit him, and I don't think that he ... felt any pain.”
Professional diver Pete West was on board a nearby boat and was asked by Irwin's team to call in the emergency.
Asked on Channel 7 if Irwin was alive when they got him on his own boat, Mr West said: “I believe so.”
"He was doing what he did best and unfortunately today he wasn't quick enough."
Dr Ed O'Loughlin was aboard the Emergency Management Queensland Helicopter which was called from Cairns at 11.21am (AEST).
Irwin was being given CPR at Low Isles, off Port Douglas, as the helicopter arrived less than one hour after the incident, but Dr O'Loughlin said nothing could be done to save him.
"It became clear fairly soon that he had non-survivable injuries," Dr O'Loughlin said.
"He had a penetrating injury to the left front of his chest. He had lost his pulse and wasn't breathing."
Mr Stainton admitted he had always feared Irwin might meet his death while working with wildlife, but added that Irwin himself was never scared.
"We've been in some pretty close shaves. (But) nothing would ever scare Steve or would worry him. He didn't have a fear of death at all.”
Father-of-two Irwin was swimming at Batt Reef, off the Low Isles, when the tragedy occurred.
Tasmania Police this afternoon confirmed his wife Terri was travelling in the state at the time of the tragedy.
A spokeswoman said police had made contact with Mrs Irwin and "passed on a message relating to the death of her husband".
The Irwins have two children - Bindi and a three-year-old son, Robert (Bob) Clarence Irwin.
John Weigel, of the Australian Reptile Park on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, said Irwin's death would be "devastating to a lot of people".
"He walked into the room like someone had opened the window and let the light in.
"He seemed invincible and it's a great shock that it could happen."
Steve Irwin - known worldwide as the Crocodile Hunter - was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchcry "Crikey!".
In an sad twist, it has been reported that his new documentary was aimed at demystifying the stingray. However Mr Stainton said Irwin was filming other footage for a program with Bindi at the time of the attack.
Irwin's Crocodile Hunter program was first broadcast in 1992 and has been shown around the world on cable network Discovery.
He has also starred in movies and has developed the Australia Zoo wildlife park, north of Brisbane, which was started by his parents Bob and Lyn Irwin.
Tributes quickly poured in for the larger-than-life character.
Prime Minister John Howard said Irwin was a typical Australian larrikin who brought joy to millions of people around the world.
"I am quite shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death," he said.
"It's a huge loss to Australia."
A Tourism Queensland spokeswoman said the death was shocking and paid tribute to Irwin's "enormous contribution" to his adopted state.
"I don't think we could even estimate how much he brought us through his personality and his profile and his enthusiasm about Queensland," she said.
Wow. I believe everyone thought that he would die in an accident involving a highly dangerous animal, but stingrays are not that.
A truly freak accident. Stingrays will strike only if scared or pinned down or cornered, but most, if surprised, will flutter around and leave the area. This scenario was one where the stingray was so surprised at the human's appearance, that he struck, and the barb pierced the "right" place. The toxin/venom on the barb is protein based and does cause alot of pain. Hopefully, he didn't feel any, since he was struck in the heart.
Mr. Irwin died doing something he loved. He will be missed. RIP.
Wow. Of all the animals that got him it was a stingray crazy. I mean like many have said this was almost in evitable. Wehn you make a job playing around with dangerous/exotic one is bound to get you eventually. Odd that it was of all things a stingray tho. I was in the water with them in Mexico never thought their barbs would be anywhere near large enough to pierce into you're chest.
Yeah - all I know about them is from snorkling in the Carib - the guide pretty much said, "Don't try to grab one and be careful about stepping on one in the sand."
It definitely didn't make the top 5 warnings.
I had visited that place as a kid about 10 years ago. Recently, I went back last summer and found that it was way too crowded. 10 years ago, it was just our boat and all the stingrays...now you have hundreds of people swimming into each other all trying to grab at the stingrays. There were even beer bottles floating around in the water the last time I was there. Too bad
Either way, they're such gentle creatures (although those ones are very tame by now). It's really a shame that this happened.
I'm not a grassy knoll kind of guy, but my spidey senses are tingling for some weird reason.
I don't think it's a lie. I think the situation is so improbable that at least a minimal investigation should be started. I mean, it's a one-in-a-million shot to die like this right? As such, it's just too strange to take at face value.
I think someone somewhere needs to look at what kind of other thin pointed object used by divers could pierce someone's heart. That's all I ask.
The irony here is that for the next month I'm actually going to be working across the street from the genuine original grassy knoll.