Cameraman Justin Lyons was with Steve Irwin when the "Crocodile Hunter" was fatally stabbed by a stingray in 2006, and now he's speaking about the tragic experience publicly for the first time. They had just about finished filming in the Great Barrier Reef on September 4, but needed one final shot of a "massive" stingray they'd found, intended to be shown swimming away from Irwin. "I had the camera on, I thought this is going to be a great shot, and all of sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," Lyons tells Australia's Studio 10.
"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 standing in a huge pool of blood," Lyons continues. He adds that, contrary to rumors, Irwin didn't pull the jagged stingray barb out of his chest; "it went through his chest like hot butter." Irwin initially didn't realize how serious his injury was, telling Lyons, "It punctured me lung." But his condition deteriorated as the crew hurried him back to the main boat for help. Lyons urged him to hang on, but Irwin "calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying.' And that was the last thing he said," Lyons says. The incident was filmed, but Lyons does not want it ever to be aired. (Read more stingray stories.)