I awoke this morning as usual to the news and was shocked to hear about the tragedy a few hours earlier in Australia. Steve Irwin was dead. The friendly and excitable conservationist, known best for his television series The Crocodile Hunter was killed by a stingray while filming a nature documentary in Queensland. What a loss to the world. It is heart wrenching to lose such a lively and illustrious member of the planet. I think Steve Irwin will be sorely missed.
Granted, we all guessed this was his fate. He was to be struck down by those very creatures he loved so much and tried his best to protect. A lesser man would wish the stingray assassin dead, but surely not Steve. Steve would chuckle, click his tongue and say, “Boy! That one sure doesn’t like me, does she! Sassy little Sheila.” This small truth is hardly comforting so soon after the early morning tragedy. Spectres of a grey, lifeless icon still swarming through the minds of many whose lives were touched by the Croc Hunter. I think of him right now and all I can see is life draining away under the frenzied hands that performed CPR for thirty minutes on a boat speeding, inconsequentially, towards the medical team on land. I think of him and I see his devastated wife, fatherless children and all those frightened, thankless animals he rescued. I see all the sick and endangered wildlife throughout the world that will never know his helping hand. I’m angry that such a perfect specimen of the human race can be brought down so quickly, with so little thought. It isn’t fair. The world needed him.
Steve faced the daily threats to his life with a smile and thumbs up. I even remember him saying once that when he died from some deadly bite or entanglement, that all of us would say it served him right. Well, I’m sure that’s true. But despite the dangers that nature posed, Steve was an animal enthusiast and would never let a set of sharp teeth or sack of deadly poison get in the way of a little bit of fun. We all watched him chasing after enormous crocodiles, poking at poisonous spiders, and standing frozen in place while a small snake hung, jaws clenched, to the groin of his khaki shorts, “You’re alright, mate, you’re alright!”
Steve’s best friend issued a statement earlier today, and claimed the conservationist died doing what he loved. I’m sure that after the raw mourning ends, that fact will come back to comfort his family, but not soon.
Media statement issued on September 4, 2006
At 11 a.m. today, the 4th of September 2006, Steve Irwin was fatally wounded by a stingray barb to his heart whilst filming a sequence on Batt Reef off Port Douglas for his daughter’s new TV series. Emergency services were called from Cairns Rescue Base and met Croc One, Steve’s rescue vessel at Low Isle on the Great Barrier Reef. The Croc One crew performed constant CPR during the thirty minute dash to Low Isle, but the medical staff pronounced Steve dead at approx. 12 noon. His producer and closest friend, John Stainton said on Croc One today, “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 loves best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. Crocs Rule!”