For the heck of it

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Croc Hunter's Dead

Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the ‘Crocodile Hunter’, was killed on Monday by a stingray while filming on the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.

Irwin was in the water at Batt Reef, off the remote coast of north-eastern 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 barb on their tails, said John Stainton, a friend and colleague.

“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 programme Crocodile Hunter, which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 before it was picked up by the Discovery network, catapulting him 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 honour US President George W. Bush when he visited in 2003, said he was “shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin’s sudden, untimely and freakish death”.

At Australia Zoo in Queensland, flowers were dropped at the entrance; drivers honked their horns as they passed.

Via Mumbai Mirror


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