"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed by "hundreds of strikes within a few seconds" from the barb of a large stingray while diving in 2006, said cameraman Justin Lyons in his first interview about the fatal incident. "I'm dying," were Irwin's final words.
Lyons appeared on the Australian talk show Studio 10 and told the hosts that he was working with Irwin on a show called "Ocean's Deadliest" when the large stingray came at them near the Great Barrier Reef.
Lyons said he and Irwin were actually hoping to film tiger sharks that day before the stingray appeared. He said they had filmed stingrays numerous times before and none showed signs of aggression.
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"Stingrays are usually very calm and if they don't want you to be around them they will just swim away because they're fast swimmers," Lyons said. He said they agreed to get one last shot of the stingray with Irwin coming up from behind so Lyons could catch the animal swimming away in the foreground.
"All of the sudden it propped up on its front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes of strikes within a few seconds," Lyons said. "It probably thought Steve's shadow was a tiger shark, which feeds on them regularly. I didn't even know it had caused any damage until I panned the camera back and Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood."
Lyons said he and others were able to load Irwin quickly onto a boat but said he was in "excruciating pain," explaining that the stingray's barb contains venom which likely infected Irwin as well.
"I was saying to him things like 'think of your kids Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on,'" Lyons told the Studio 10 hosts. "He calmly looked up at me and said 'I'm dying." And that was the last thing he said."
Bindi Irwin, 15, Irwin's oldest child, announced last week a partnership with SeaWorld called Generation Nature, which would encourage children to get involved with nature while invoking her father's memory, reported Us Weekly
"I'm so excited to be carrying on in dad's footsteps and making sure that everything he worked so hard for continues for the generations to come," Bindi Irwin told "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts last week.
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