TIME Television

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s Last Words: ‘I’m Dying’

'The Crocodile Hunter's' longtime friend and cameraman revealed the television host's last words for the first time since Irwin died after a stingray attack in 2006, adding there's footage of Irwin's death he hopes the public never sees

Steve Irwin’s friend and cameraman, who was with the famed wildlife expert when he died on Sept. 4, 2006, revealed Irwin’s final words on an Australian talk show on Sunday: “I’m dying.”

Irwin, 44, was filming a documentary on the world’s deadliest sea creatures near the Batt Reef in Queensland, Australia when he was stabbed “hundreds” of times by a stingray, per cameraman Justin Lyons. “It probably thought that Steve’s shadow was a tiger shark,” Lyons said on Studio 10, an Australian talk show. “So it started to attack him.” The stingray’s barb, the pointy part of their tails used in self-defense, went through Steve’s chest like “a hot knife through butter,” according to Lyons.

Lyons said he didn’t even realize the Crocodile hunter, who referred to Lyons as his “best mate” and “right hand man,” was seriously hurt until he panned over him with his camera. After the attack, Lyons and other crewmembers got Irwin in their boat and attempted CPR. Irwin then looked up at him and said calmly, “I’m dying,” Lyons said.

Reports around the time of Irwin’s death alleged he had taken the barb out himself, but Lyons said that was not the case.

The attack, Lyons said, was captured on film. When asked if the recording would ever be released, Lyons said, “Never.”

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