Steve Irwin's cameraman spoke about the 2006 death of 'The Crocodile Hunter" for the first time, saying the legendary Animal Planet star's last words were "I'm dying" before succumbing to wounds inflicted by a stingray.
Justin Lyons appeared Sunday on Australian morning show Studio 10 and described Irwin's final moments.
"It was shocking. It was probably always going to be something weird with Steve," Lyons said. "I mean, a crocodile or a shark, he was so good with animals, nothing was going to get him. We thought he was going to live forever, but it would always be a crazy, silly accident, and as it turns out that's exactly what it was."
Irwin and Lyons were filming the animal off the coast of Australia, attempting to get a last shot of the stingray swimming away when the attack occurred.
"All of a sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," Lyons said. "It probably thought that Steve's shadow was a tiger shark, which feeds on them very regularly ... I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away, I didn't even know it had caused any damage. It wasn't until I panned the camera back, that Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood, that I realized something had gone wrong."
According to Us Weekly, Lyons denied reports that the stingray's barb came out during the attack. "It didn't come out. Steve didn't pull it out," he said. "It's a jagged, sharp barb and it went through his chest like a hot knife through butter."
The cameraman said the 44-year-old Irwin was in "extraordinary pain."
"They've got venom on their barb, so, I'm sure, it was excruciatingly painful. He had an extraordinary threshold for pain, so I knew that when he was in pain it must have been painful," Lyons said. "He obviously didn't know that it had punctured his heart, but he knew it had punctured his lung -- he was having trouble breathing. Even if we'd been able to get him into an emergency ward at that moment, we probably wouldn't have been able to save him, because the damage to his heart was massive."
Lyons said he performed CPR on Irwin for "over an hour," but medics pronounced him dead "within 10 seconds of looking at him."
"I was saying to him things like, 'Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on,'" Lyons said. "And he just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying,' and that was the last thing he said."
Irwin is survived by wife Terri Irwin and kids Bindi, now 15, and Robert, 10. Bindi is taking some heat from animal activists for working with SeaWorld on its Generations Nature initiative while the park still keeps captive orcas.