Steve Irwin’s longtime cameraman Justin Lyons is speaking out for the first time since a giant stingray killed the Crocodile Hunter in shallow water while filming in a Queensland reef eight years ago. Lyons spoke with Australia’s Studio 10 and recounted that they had wrapped filming and were just getting one final shot when the stingray — which had been swimming away — propped itself up and stabbed Irwin through the chest “hundreds of times.” Did anyone else instinctively clutch their chest right now? Because I did. Yeeeeesh.
Lyons says that he didn’t know Steve had been injured at first. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
“I had the camera on, I thought this is going to be a great shot, and all of sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds,” Lyons said during an interview on Network Ten’s morning show Studio 10.
“I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away and I didn’t know it had caused any damage. It was only when I panned the camera back that I saw Steve standing in a huge pool of blood.”
“It’s a jagged barb and it went through his chest like hot butter.”
You know that thing where you put your fingers in your ears and sing “LA LA LA LA LA?” I’m trying to figure out a way of doing that in my brain right now.
Lyons said Irwin knew he was in trouble and believed the stingray had punctured his lung. “He had a two-inch-wide injury over his heart with blood and fluid coming out of it and we had to get him back to the boat as fast as we can,” Lyons said.
“He obviously didn’t know it had punctured his heart … even if we had got him into an emergency ward at that moment we probably we wouldn’t have been able to save him.
“I was saying to him things like ‘think of your kids Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on’, and he calmly looked up at me and said ‘I’m dying’ and that was the last thing he said.”
Lyons says that the footage (Irwin had a rule to keep rolling no matter what happened) will likely never see the light of day. That’s a very good thing, because during writing and researching this article — I found that when you type “Steve Irwin” into YouTube’s search box, the first autocomplete result is “steve irwin death video.” Goddamn, people are sick f*cks.
Here’s footage of the entire interview Studio 10 segment: