'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin's last words: 'I'm dying'

Steve Irwin (Handout)

Steve Irwin (Handout)

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, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Steve Irwin's cameraman has spoken for the first time about the TV star's death, revealing the wildlife expert was stabbed hundreds of times by a stingray before he perished.

The Australian TV personality died in September, 2006 at the age of 44 after being speared in the chest by a stingray as he swam above the creature in the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland.

Camera operator Justin Lyons has now spoken publicly about the horror for the first time, revealing he was so busy filming that he did not realise Irwin had been fatally injured.

He also recalls how the fearless nature lover told him, "I'm dying" as his life ebbed away.

Lyons, who was shooting a documentary with Irwin when the tragedy happened, tells Australia's Channel Ten they encountered an eight foot-wide stingray which struck out, apparently believing Irwin's shadow was a tiger shark.

Lyons says, "I had the camera on, I thought this is going to be a great shot, and all of a 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... in a huge pool of blood that I realized something had gone wrong."

Lyons also recalled how he heard Irwin's final words as he helped the stricken star back onto their boat, adding, "He calmly looked up at me and said 'I'm dying' and that was the last thing he said."


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