Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died yesterday in a freak accident at the age of 44. He was filming a new documentary piece at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, when a frightened stingray struck Steve directly in the heart.
While he managed to pull the barb out, he still succumbed to cardiac arrest; all within seconds, and all on film. The film itself is being used in the investigation, although the preliminary investigation has found no indication that the fish was provoked or that the rescue attempts were mishandled. Hopefully, they will destroy the film before his widow or children ever have to see it.
Stingrays are very non-aggressive fish, and tend to strike only when startled. Steve's death could have either been caused by the removal of the barbed stinger, or by an allergic reaction to the toxins that are forced through the barb. An autopsy is being done.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Terri, and their children Bindi Sue, and Bob.
Discovery Communications, Inc. is putting together a fund – affectionately called the "Crikey Fund" – to support wildlife protection, education and conservation. In addition, the fund will be added to donations from DCI in support of maintaining Australia Zoo, and providing an education for Bindi and Bob. All condolences are being collected at the fan site, which is clogged with users right now.
Goodnight, Steve. Thank you for hours of entertainment and enlightenment. I'm sorry that you had to go, but heaven must have been getting overrun with rogue crocodiles. Hopefully, one of the millions that you've inspired will carry on your torch, and continue your fight for the voiceless and vilified endangered predators that you so loved.
"My number one rule is to keep that camera rolling. Even if it's shaky or slightly out of focus, I don't give a rip. Even if a big old alligator is chewing me up I want to go down and go, 'Crikey!' just before I die. That would be the ultimate for me." – Steve Irwin