WATCH ABOVE: New details emerge about Steve Irwin’s final moments
TORONTO – The cameraman who witnessed the death of Steve Irwin said the Australian “Crocodile Hunter” looked up at him and said “I’m dying,” after being violently stabbed by a stingray.
Justin Lyons spoke for the first time about the incident in an interview with Australia’s morning program Studio 10.
“He was having trouble breathing,” said Lyons. “Even if we’d been able to get him into an emergency ward at that moment we probably wouldn’t have been able to save him, because the damage to his heart was massive. As we’re motoring back I’m screaming at one of the other crew in the boat to put their hand over the wound and we’re saying to him things like, ‘Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on.’ He just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, ‘I’m dying.’ And that was the last thing he said.”
Irwin was fatally injured in a stingray attack in 2006 while filming a documentary called “Ocean’s Deadliest.”
‘It went through his chest like a hot knife through butter’
Lyons said he and Irwin wanted a final shot of the stingray swimming away from Irwin, contrasting speculations that Irwin had either provoked or “chased” the ray.
“I had the camera and thought this was going to be a great shot,” Lyons said. “And all a sudden it (the stingray) propped on its front and started stabbing (Steve) with its tail. Hundreds of strikes in a few seconds.”
The cameraman says the ray may have thought that Irwin’s shadow was a predatory tiger.
Lyons said the stingray stabbed Irwin “hundreds of times” and that, contrary to other media reports, Irwin did not pull out the barb in the chest.
“It went through his chest like a hot knife through butter,” Lyons said. “He thought it had punctured his lung, and he stood up out of the water and said ‘it’s punctured my lung.’ ”
Lyons said Irwin was not aware that the barb has punctured his heart.
Although never released, the attack and medical efforts were all captured on film.