Australia’s beloved conservationist, Steve Irwin, died a tragic death doing what he was passionate about, capturing the life of animals. Strangely, in his last days, his friend said he made a “finale speech.”
Steve Irwin’s best friend and producer, John Stainton, relived the harrowing events that took place in the last few weeks of his and Irwin’s biggest adventure on the recent episode of the podcast, “I’ve Got News For You.”
Stainton expressed that speaking about the incident was difficult for him but explained he and Steve came up with an idea to shoot a documentary on “Ocean’s Deadliest,” which involved every dangerous species living underwater.
Straight off the bat, he admitted that he felt uncomfortable about the entire plan. “Three weeks before, I told him we should call it off and stop it because I didn’t want to go ahead with it,” he said.
However, Stainton could not pull out of the adventure at the last minute because the team had already made a big commitment and paid a lot of money for it.
Once again, he stressed how weary he was from the beginning of the year about the whole situation saying, “One day, I had a premonition that it would be the last of my life this year.”
He divulged that he even had a will drawn up. Stainton feared for his life, noting he had never had one before but ensured he would have one because he believed something was wrong with him.
So much so that he got tests done and even went for CAT scans, adding he strongly felt that something would go wrong. He revealed that Irwin had a neck problem before the shoot, and he experienced tremendous pain.
Stainton shared that weirdly, the zookeeper made a speech thanking the team for being who they are and for helping him. He described it as a “finale speech.”
The director witnessed the wildlife expert’s tragic death as every horrific second of his last moments on earth got captured on camera.
Irwin lost his life in a freak accident on September 4, 2006, at age 44, during a trip to Queensland’s Batt Reef to film the documentary.
He and his pal and cameraman Justin Lyons were buying time during a rain delay when they discovered an eight-foot-wide stingray. In an interview on Australia’s morning show, “Studio 10” in 2014, Lyons revealed he and Irwin were very close.
He shared how excited the television personality was about filming the documentary, saying it was what he loved. Eight days before the shoot, they searched for tiger sharks, but the weather was terrible.
Seeing Irwin could not sit up and not do anything, he suggested they do something instead, and they both jumped on an inflatable boat and went on a mission.
It was not long when they found a stingray that would be a perfect shoot for their next project in the pipeline. Things were going well until they decided to do one last shoot, which ended up being fatal.
The stingray was between them, and Irwin swam toward the camera while Lyons filmed the ray swimming away. Then things started going left. The witness explained:
“All of a sudden, it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds. It probably thought Steve’s shadow was a tiger shark, who feeds on them regularly, so it started attacking him.”
Even under those circumstances, Lyons focused on his work and revealed that he and Irwin had a rule that if he were ever hurt or injured, they would continue filming no matter what.
Still, it was not until he realized that the tail strikes had gone straight into Irwin. Lyons shared his dear friend was standing in a pool of blood when he noticed that something was wrong.
His priority was to get him out of the water. The sharp barb had gone through his chest, and all they could tell was that there was a two-inch injury right over his heart.
Lyons said even if they had managed to get him to an emergency ward immediately, they probably would have failed to save him because the damage to his heart was severe.
After getting him on the boat, one crew member kept his hand over his wound while Lyons reminded him to think of his children. He said Irwin calmly looked up at him and said his last words:
News of his passing shocked the world, which came to adore him as the animal lover during his 10-year stint as a host on the popular TV show “The Crocodile Hunter” and its spinoffs.
FACTS ABOUT HIM & ACHIEVEMENTS
Irwin grew up in a wildlife park owned by his parents. He was born on February 22, 1962, in Melbourne, Australia. While he did not possess a scientific degree, he grew up studying and caring for animals at his family’s wildlife park, now known as the Australia Zoo.
He is survived by his beloved wife, American-born Terri Irwin, who was in Australia on vacation in 1991 when they met – and their kids, Bindi and Robert. The couple married in 1992 and remained together until his death.
The duo spent their honeymoon filming crocodiles, and the footage became part of their 1992 Australian TV show “The Crocodile Hunter.” Years later, the series was picked up by the American cable network Animal Planet. When it gained recognition, it aired in more than 200 countries.
Fifteen years after his passing, Irwin’s children continue to honor him by celebrating Steve Irwin Day. Last week, the siblings took to Instagram and posted touching tributes to their dad to mark the international event.
Robert, 17, wrote that he was in his thoughts a lot and thought about the impact he made on the planet, inspiring the young generation, alongside a throwback snapshot of himself, dad, and sister.
As for 23-year-old Bindi, she noted her father’s legacy would live forever and loved him dearly, alongside a smiling shot of her and Irwin by the ocean.
FACTS ABOUT BINDI & ROBERT
The brother and sister followed in their dad’s footsteps and became dedicated conservationists and zookeepers. As the eldest child, Bindi was born on July 24, 1998, and inherited love for wildlife from her parents. Since her dad’s death, she has remained committed to protecting all animals and nature.
She first made her television debut on her father’s former show “The Crocodile Hunter,” which ran from 1994 to 2004. She was then offered a show in 2007 titled “Bindi the Jungle Girl.”
Her younger brother Robert was born on December 1, 2003, and has a knack for wildlife photography. Like his older sister, he also made his mark on TV.
In 2014, he began co-hosting “Wild But True” and later started making regular appearances with different animals on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.”