Steve Irwin: death was filmed confirms cameraman - video

Colleague says stingray barb went through his chest 'like butter' and Irwin said: 'I'm dying'

THE cameraman working with Steve Irwin when he was killed by a stingray in 2006 has revealed details of the fatal attack, including the naturalist's final words, and told how he captured his last moments on film.

Irwin was attacked by the ray while snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. "I had the camera on, I thought this is going to be a great shot, and all of sudden [the stingray] propped on its front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," Justin Lyons said today.

He also revealed that Irwin's last words were "I'm dying".

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In an interview with Australian TV channel Network Ten, the cameraman provided new details about the attack and contradicted some claims made at the time of the Crocodile Hunter star's death.

He said that Irwin was not chasing or provoking the 2.4m-long stingray, and that he did not pull the barbed stingray tail out of his chest, as was initially reported.

The two men were filming the final scene of the day, Lyons said, when the stingray struck. "I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away and I didn't know it had caused any damage," he told TV viewers. "It was only when I panned the camera back that I saw Steve standing in a huge pool of blood."

He said the "jagged barb" on the stingray's tail "went through his chest like hot butter".

"Contrary to what I read in the papers and what I heard at the time, it didn't come out," he added. "Steve didn't pull it out."

Irwin and Lyons were filming in shallow waters off the coast of northern Queensland when the attack occurred. Lyons got Irwin into the boat and took him to a nearby island, where he was picked up by an air ambulance, but his injuries proved fatal.

"I was saying to him things like 'think of your kids Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on'," Lyons recalled. "He calmly looked up at me and said 'I'm dying' and that was the last thing he said."

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, "the stingray attack, the CPR and medical efforts were all captured on film, but have never been released".

"Lyons says he doesn't know where the footage is but believes it should never be aired," the paper reports.

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