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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Steve Irwin

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Steve Irwin's deadly encounter with a stingray was captured on dramatic videotape and shows TV's "Crocodile Hunter" pulling out the animal's poisonous barb that had pierced his heart moments before he died, officials said today.

The beloved naturalist was being videotaped snorkeling above the beast for Ocean's Deadliest, a new TV documentary. Queensland Police Superintendent Michael Keating said the footage showed nothing suspicious about Irwin's death nor evidence that he provoked the animal. Police held the tape as evidence for a coroner's inquiry, a standard procedure in high-profile deaths or those caused by other than natural causes.

News of Irwin's death shocked his native Australia, and fans around the world poured out their grief and condolences.

Parliament interrupted its normal schedule so lawmakers could pay tribute to Irwin, whose body was flown home to Beerwah today from Cairns. State Premier Peter Beattie said Irwin would be afforded a state funeral if his family agreed.

"He was a genuine, one-off, remarkable Australian individual, and I am distressed at his death," Prime Minister John Howard said.

The colorful 44-year-old Irwin, who made a career out of getting dangerously close to deadly beasts, was killed while swimming in shallow water on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

John Stainton, Irwin's manager who was among the crew on the reef and later also watched the videotape of the attack, described the "terrible" experience of watching a friend die.

"It shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up, and spiked him here (in the chest), and he pulled it out and the next minute he's gone," Stainton told reporters in the Queensland state city of Cairns, where Irwin's body had been taken after the accident for an autopsy.

Human deaths caused by stingrays are extremely rare.

Stainton said that Irwin was in his element in the Outback, but that he and Irwin had talked about the sea posing threats the star wasn't used to.

"If ever he was going to go, we always said it was going to be the ocean," Stainton said. "On land he was agile, quick-thinking (and) quick-moving, and the ocean puts another element there that you have no control over."

Immediately after the attack, Irwin was rushed to his nearby research vessel, the Croc One.

A doctor aboard the ship was unable to resuscitate Irwin, who was dead by the time a rescue helicopter arrived. "He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind," Stainton said.

Irwin's American wife, Terri, and children returned late Monday from a trekking vacation in Tasmania to Australia Zoo, the wildlife park in Beerwah where the family lived. The couple, who met at Irwin's wildlife park in the Australian state of Queensland, have two children, Bindi Sue, 8, and Bob, 2. Read the rest of the article here.


Charles said...

I was shocked, I came home from work and saw a news commercial, and my jaw dropped! Feels like a part of American Culture is missing now. He was entertaining.

Mr. Fabulous said...

Isn't this horrible? It took a while for me to believe it. He was one of those guys you just thought was always going to be okay.

Clance' McClannahan said...

I loved Steve. This is so sad. He did so much for raising awareness about wildlife and animals in general.