September 4, 2006

Australia’s “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin dies

By Paul Tait

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian
naturalist who won worldwide acclaim, was killed by a stingray
barb through the chest on Monday while diving off Australia's
northeast coast, emergency officials and witnesses said.

"Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest," said local
diving operator Steve Edmondson, whose Poseidon boats were out
on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred.

"He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury,"
he said.

Police and ambulance officials later confirmed Irwin had
died and said his family had been advised.

Irwin, 44, was killed while filming an underwater
documentary off Port Douglas.

Irwin had been diving off his boat "Croc One" near Batt
Reef northeast of Port Douglas. A helicopter had taken
paramedics to nearby Low Isles where Irwin was taken for
medical treatment but he was dead before they arrived, police

Irwin won a global following for his dare-devil antics but
also triggered outrage in 2004 by holding his then
one-month-old baby while feeding a snapping crocodile at his
Australian zoo.

He made almost 50 of his "Crocodile Hunter" documentaries
which appeared on cable TV channel Animal Planet and won a
worldwide audience.

The series ended after he was criticized for the incident
with his young son and for disturbing whales, seals and
penguins while filming in Antarctica.

Khaki-clad Irwin became famous for his seemingly
death-defying methods with wild animals, including crocodiles
and snakes.

He made a cameo appearance alongside Eddie Murphy in the
2001 Hollywood film Dr Dolittle 2 and appeared on U.S.
television shows such as "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and
on children's television alongside The Wiggles.

Irwin was married with two children, Bindi Sue and Bob
Clarence. His American-born wife Terri was his business partner
and frequent on-screen collaborator.

(Additional reporting by Michael Perry in SYDNEY)