Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Freak Death Of Steve Irwin Caught On Video

Russell Crowe On Irwin : "The Ultimate Wildlife Warrior"

By Darryl Mason

Steve Irwin boasted in 2003 that television cameras follow him around and capture almost every second of each day in his life.

It is then, not surprising, that Irwin's sudden death has been caught on any number of cameras, and not just those that were vidding him for a new TV series on Australia's deadliest creatures (the irony would have made him laugh long and loud, no doubt).

A camera crew caught the moment when a 2.5 metre long stingray pierced his heart, but tourists on a reef cruise nearby also captured the frantic attempts to revive this legendary Australian on the deck of a boat.

Right now, Queensland police are reviewing the video of the moment the stingray pumped venom straight into his heart, bringing on cardiac arrest.

It will only be a matter of time before the videos of tourists pop up online.

For a man who lived his life so publicly, should the moment of his death be private, or shared with those who wish to view it, regardless of how traumatic the footage of a dying man may be?

From news.com :

"The footage shows him swimming in the water, the ray stopped and turned and that was it," said boatowner Peter West, who viewed the footage afterwards.

"There was no blood in the water, it was not that obvious ... something happened with this animal that made it rear and he was at the wrong position at the wrong time and if it hit him anywhere else we would not be talking about a fatality."

Stingrays the size of the one that killed Irwin have a spike on the end of their tale, described as being "like a dagger", 20cm long. It seems likely now that Irwin may have died almost instantly.

Spear fisherman and fellow film-maker Ben Cropp has a few more details on what happened :

"He was up in the shallow water, probably 1.5m to 2m deep, following a bull ray which was about a metre across the body - probably weighing about 100kg, and it had quite a large spine. The cameraman was filming in the water."

Mr Cropp said the stingray was spooked and went into defensive mood.

"It probably felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead, and it felt there was danger and it baulked.

"It stopped and went into a defensive mode and swung its tail with the spike.

"Steve unfortunately was in a bad position and copped it.

"I have had that happen to me, and I can visualise it - when a ray goes into defensive, you get out of the way.

"Steve was so close he could not get away, so if you can imagine it - being right beside the ray and it swinging its spine upwards from underneath Steve - and it hit him..."
Millions of Americans, like Australians, like people across the planet, have gone into a state of shock over the sudden death of Irwin.

Irwin once explained to US TV host Jay Leno how he goes about determining whether a crocodile is male or female :
"I put my finger in here and if it smiles, it's a girl," Irwin said. "If it bites me, it's a boy."
Interesting bit of info on just how valuable an entertainment icon Irwin was viewed as in the US
He was being wooed by cashed up Las Vegas casinos willing to pay a reported $US50 million to perform nightly, long-term shows.
Hard to imagine such a lover of the outdoors and animals in their natural state would have ever commited to a Las Vegas strip show, that would have kept in the desert city for months on end.

The RSPCA said Irwin was like "a modern day Noah" due to his devotion to conservation causes and efforts to save endangered Australian fauna :
"His loss will be felt by animal lovers not just in Australia but all over the world," said RSPCA Queensland chief executive Mark Townend.

RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty, who first worked with Irwin when the Crocodile Hunter was just 15, said Irwin's contribution to society would only truly be recognised in the years ahead.

"He put his money where his mouth was," Mr Beatty said.

"Other people talked about it, Steve did it.

"His television series inspired millions of people all over the world to not only appreciate and understand wildlife, but to become active in the conservation movement.

"Whether he was speaking to global leaders or ordinary Australians, Steve Irwin told it like it was.

"His death truly is a tragedy.

"Wildlife has lost its most vocal champion," Mr Beatty said.

Australian actor Russell Crowe says goodbye to his mate :
He was the Australian we all aspire to be. He held an absolute belief that caring for the richness of our country, meaning specifically the riches of our fauna, was the highest priority we should have. And, over time, we might just see how right he was.

He was and remains, the ultimate wildlife warrior. He touched my heart. I believed in him. I'll miss him. I loved him and I will be there for his family.

His manager and close friend, John Stainton, says goodbye :
"The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet. He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, 'Crocs Rule!'"
Internet forums across the world are steadily filling with millions of tributes, goodbyes and words of praise for Irwin and his work. It's truly remarkable. It's easily the most volumuous outpouring of public grief and affection since the death of Princess Diana.

The news.com forum in Australia has logged more than 3000 comments in less than eight hours since the news of his death hit the headlines. The CrocodileHunter.com homepage has been down for hours due to the millions of people trying to reach the site to say their goodbyes.

Hopefully Irwin's most important message to all of us will never be forgotten.

Treat the Earth with respect and love and conserve it for future generations.

After all, it's the only one we've got.