Steve Irwin’s final moments and last words have been revealed by the Crocodile Hunter’s right hand, his trusted cameraman Justin Lyons. In an exclusive interview on Network Ten's morning show “Studio 10,” Lyons talked for the first time about the fateful last dive that he and Irwin took eight years ago, reported The Sydney Morning Herald on March 10, 2014.
In the summer of 2006, Irwin and Lyons were filming the documentary “Ocean’s Deadliest” at Batt Reef near Port Douglas, Queensland. Batt Reef is part of the Great Barrier Reef.
On Sept. 4, however, the two encountered bad weather, so they headed out from the main boat in an inflatable to find something to film. Sure enough, as they were in shallow, chest-high water, the two encountered a massive eight-foot stingray.
According to Lyon’s description, the two had finished filming when they wanted to get one last shot of the stingray swimming away with Irwin behind him.
"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. 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."
During his interview, Lyons said that stingrays are usually not aggressive but rather swim away, but that in this case the animal might have mistaken Irwin’s dark shadow as a shark and vehemently defended himself.
In contrast to previous media reports about Irwin's final moments, the jagged barb of the stingray had not come out and Irwin didn’t pull it out of his chest, but thinking that he had been stabbed in his lung because he had trouble breathing, the Crocodile Hunter knew he was in trouble.
"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."
After Steve Irwin’s last words during his final moment, Lyons continued giving his friend CPR for the next hour, but the Crocodile Hunter was declared dead immediately once medics arrived. In his interview, Lyons explains that “Steve had this rule that no matter who was injured we had to keep filming ... a second cameraman filmed the CPR.” In regard to making the footage of Irwin’s dying moments public, the cameraman says that “I don't know what's happened to it and I hope it would never see the light of day. Never (should it be seen), out of respect for everyone and his family, I would say no.” Since his traumatic experience, Lyons has made a documentary “E-Motion,” exploring the effects of emotional trauma.