Irwin's cameraman shares his accounts of his death - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Irwin's cameraman shares his accounts of his death

Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray more than seven years ago, off the northeastern coast of Australia.

The only witness to Irwin's death shared his story for the first time.

Irwin was known around the world as "the crocodile hunter," but it was the powerful barb of a stingray that killed him back in 2006, during a dive with cameraman Justin Lyons.

"I thought, 'This is going to be a great shot,' and all of sudden [the ray] propped on its front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," Lyons said.

Irwin had made a career out of close encounters with dangerous animals.

When he died, Irwin was filming a documentary called Oceans Deadliest

"I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away and I didn't know it had caused any damage," Lyons said. "It was only when I panned the camera back that I saw Steve standing in a huge pool of blood."

They got back in the boat, and that's when the cameraman saw the two inch wide gash over his friend's heart.

"They've got a venom on their barb, so I'm sure it was excruciatingly painful," Lyons said. "He had an extraordinary threshold for pain, so I know that when he was in pain it must have been painful."

Irwin was having trouble breathing. Lyons says even if they'd gotten to a hospital immediately, he thinks it would have been too late.

 "I'm screaming at one of the other crew in the boat to put their hand over the wound and I was saying to him things like 'think of your kids Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on', and he just sort of calmly looked up at me and said 'I'm dying' and that was the last thing he said," Lyons said.

Irwin grew up on his parents wildlife park, and spent his life surrounded by animals.

Since his death, his wife and children have carried on his work in wildlife conservation.