September 4th, 2006 05:50 EST
Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Killed by a Sting Ray
World renowned eccentric Australian Naturalist is dead at 44. He is believed to have been killed by a sting ray while filming an underwater film documentary of Port Douglas.
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.
Irwin made almost 50 of his ‘Crocodile Hunter’ documentaries which appeared on cable TV channel Animal Planet and won a global following his daredevil antics. He also triggered indignation in 2004 by holding his then one-month-old baby while feeding a snapping crocodile at his Australian zoo. The series ‘Crocodile Hunter’ ended when he was criticized for the way he handled his son as well as for disturbing ocean life while filming in the Antarctica.
Irwin’s TV career also included a cameo appearance alongside Eddie Murphy in the 2001 Hollywood film ‘Dr. Doolittle 2’ and U.S. television shows such as ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ and children's television alongside ‘The Wiggles’.
Irwin was married to American born Terri Raines, who was also his business partner and appeared in his shows. They had two children, Bindie Sue and Bob Clarence.
In response to a request by CNN.com for viewers to send in their tributes to the Australian naturalist, his fans responded:
“This is devastating news for all the wildlife loving community. I have been viewing and learning from him for so many years….He was not a "Hunter" but a lover, a lover of nature and its beautiful gifts.”
“Our hearts go out to his family and friends; he was such an amazing person! An absolute legend! He will be missed by millions worldwide and never forgotten.”
“We loved Steve Irwin. He was not just fascinating to watch but also to see the respect he had for God's creatures. We hope his legacy in conservation lives on so that generations to come may know these creatures. He will be greatly missed!”
“My deepest heartfelt condolences go out to Teri and her beautiful children for their loss. This amazing man gave nature to us in such an enjoyable way. He will be greatly missed.”