Six-man fan
Shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time (01:00 UTC) on 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a short-tail stingray barb whilst snorkeling in Batt Reef, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Port Douglas in Queensland. Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, to be called The Ocean's Deadliest, but weather had stalled filming. Irwin decided to take the opportunity to film some shallow water shots for a segment in the television program his daughter Bindi was hosting, when, according to his friend and colleague John Stainton, he swam too close to one of the animals. "He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat the Croc One.<P>The events were caught on camera, and the footage was handed to the Queensland Police. After reviewing the footage of the incident and speaking to the cameraman who recorded it, marine documentary filmmaker and former spearfisherman Ben Cropp speculated that the stingray "felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead." In such a case, the stingray responds by automatically flexing the serrated barb on its tail up to a maximum of 25 cm (10 in) of length. Cropp said Irwin had accidentally boxed the animal in. "It stopped and twisted and threw up its tail with the spike, and it caught him in the chest. It's a defensive thing." The stinging of Irwin by the bull ray was "a one-in-a-million thing," Cropp told Time magazine. "I have swum with many rays, and I have only had one do that to me." Some reports have claimed that after the incident, Irwin was shown on tape pulling the barb out, before losing consciousness, but this was both confirmed and denied by his colleague John Stainton in different sources. It is thought, in the absence of a coroner's report, a combination of the toxins and the puncture wound from the barb caused Irwin to die of an apparent cardiac arrest or that he died quickly as a result of a punctured aorta.<P>Crew members aboard his boat called the emergency services in the nearest city of Cairns and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Lowe Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time later. According to Dr. Ed O'Loughlin, who treated Irwin, "it became clear fairly soon that he had non-survivable injuries." "He had a penetrating injury to the left front of his chest. He had lost his pulse and wasn't breathing."<P>Irwin's body was flown to a morgue in Cairns. His wife was on a walking tour in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in Tasmania at the time, and returned via a private plane from Devonport to the Sunshine Coast with their two children.<P>This was only the third known Australian fatality from a stingray, and the first since 1945. As of 1996, only seventeen worldwide fatalities had been recorded, and it is believed to be the only fatality from a stingray ever captured on film.
Darn. I lost the bet. I bet a friend of mine that Steve Irwin wouldn't be buried with both hands still attached ...<P>John