It was early morning here in the states -- about 2am, to be precise -- when news of the death of Australian animal show host Steve Irwin, otherwise known as the "Crocodile Hunter," filtered in from his homeland. At the time that I first reported on the accidental death, little details were just starting to emerge from the events that occurred on Monday.
Irwin was filming for an episode of his new Discovery Channel series, "Ocean's Deadliest Predators," when he was killed by a barb from a stingray. At the time I first wrote about his passing, little was known as to what led up to the event or how a normally docile creature such as a stingray would have attacked as it did.
As the day wore on, more was revealed about Irwin's last few moments.
John Stainton, Irwin's manager and close friend, was one of the first to view the footage that had been shot at the time of the attack. Appearing on Tuesday's edition of CNN's "Larry King Live," Stainton said that it was hard witnessing the death of his friend.
Offering details of what happened, he explained that it appeared as though during a rollover with the stingray, Irwin was on top of the creature when its tail lashed up. The steel-hard serrated barb on its tail, normally used for defense, pierced his heart upon impact. Stainton recalled watching Irwin pull the barb out with his bare hands on the tape before going under the water. A doctor on board Croc One, Irwin's research vessel, was unable to resuscitate him, and by the time a rescue helicopter reached him, he had died.
To date, the tape has not been aired for any news outlets or the public and remains in the hands of the Queensland, Australia state police. Stainton commented that he hopes the tape is never released. "It's a very hard thing to watch, because you are actually witnessing somebody die, and it's terrible," he said, adding, "I would never want that tape shown. I mean, it should be destroyed."
When King asked a teary Stainton how Irwin's wife was doing, he replied: "A lot worse than me".
In a separate press conference, Queensland state police Superintendent Michael Keating stated, "There is no evidence Mr. Irwin was threatening or intimidating the stingray."
At the time of Irwin's accident, wife Terri and the couple's two children, daughter Bindi, 8 and son Bob, 2, were on a family holiday in Tasmania, on the southern end of the Australian continent. They were hiking near Cradle Mountain when news reached Terri of her husband's death.
Too understandably distraught to talk about what had happened, she later spoke to the couple's extended family at the Australia Zoo. According to spokesman Michael Hornsby, she quickly relayed to the staff via two-way radio how grateful she was for their support and how much it meant to her in their time of grief. She has not commented since.
Irwin's body has been returned to the family in their hometown of Beerwah in Queensland. There have so far been no plans revealed for his funeral, though Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has gone on record, offering a state funeral. There is speculation that the family will hold a small private funeral and then a second more public one, to allow his many fans to say a proper goodbye.
In the meantime, the family of Steve Irwin requests that any donations in his name be made to Wildlife Warriors Worldwide LTD, a charity that Irwin was very involved with.