In a heartwarming throwback to the early 2000s, resurfaced interviews and videos reveal the deep love and connection that the late Steve Irwin had for his family.
The Crocodile Hunter, known for his adventurous spirit and boundless enthusiasm for wildlife, showcased a different side as he opened up about his role as a father and a husband. With his wife Terri, daughter Bindi, and son Robert by his side, Irwin’s passion for his family was as evident as his love for the animal kingdom.
In a 2001 interview with Access Hollywood, a beaming Irwin led his wife Terri and young daughter Bindi on a tour of Los Angeles, providing a glimpse into their unbreakable bond. The interview showcased the Irwin family at the zenith of their success, with the show, “The Crocodile Hunter,” captivating audiences around the world. Irwin stated:
“We have the strongest family unit on the face of the earth. We try to do every single thing together.”
As they walked through the streets of Los Angeles, Irwin’s interaction with his daughter Bindi was heartwarming. Pointing at a Crocodile Hunter poster, he engaged his infant daughter in playful banter, asking her what the crocodile was doing and whether it had his boot.
Irwin’s transformation into an adoring father was a revelation even to himself. In a touching video from the ABC Australian Story archives dating back to 2003, he spoke lovingly about his daughter Bindi. He admitted that he would often find himself moved to tears just by looking at her picture. He confessed:
“You know what? I never wanted to be a dad. I couldn’t really give a rip. And now I am the proudest father. Who would have thought someone as ugly as me could bring into the world something so beautiful, such a treasure?”
Irwin’s love for his family transcended his fame as a wildlife icon. Despite his larger-than-life persona and daredevil exploits, he cherished the role of a father, a husband, and a protector. The affection he showered upon his family revealed a side of him that touched the hearts of many beyond his contributions to the conservation world.
The world was left in shock on September 4, 2006, as news broke that Irwin, the famed Crocodile Hunter, had tragically lost his life during an underwater encounter with a stingray.
The encounter that would change everything occurred on Batt Reef, off the coast of Port Douglas.
The man who had fearlessly faced crocodiles and other dangerous creatures, known for his boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm for wildlife, met his untimely end in an unforeseen and tragic incident.
Irwin’s final moments were shared in the emotional account of his closest companion and underwater cameraman, Justin Lyons. In the lead-up to that fateful day, Irwin’s dedication to his craft and passion for conservation was undeniable.
Always seeking to capture nature’s wonders on camera, he famously advised his camera crew to continue filming even in the face of danger. His IMDb biographer Tommy Donovan recalled:
“If he needs help, he will ask for it. Even if he is eaten by a shark or croc, the main thing he wants is that it be filmed.”
This dedication to his mission would ultimately shape the circumstances leading to his tragic demise. On a day that was initially meant for the filming of his program “Ocean’s Deadliest,” Irwin found himself with downtime due to inclement weather.
Eager to make the most of his time, he, along with cameraman Lyons and director John Stainton, set out on a small boat to capture footage for his daughter Bindi’s show, “Bindi the Jungle Girl.” Little did they know that this seemingly routine adventure would take a devastating turn.
The encounter that would change everything occurred on Batt Reef, off the coast of Port Douglas. Intent on filming a normally harmless stingray, Irwin and Lyons entered chest-deep waters with excitement and anticipation. The seasoned professionals expected the ray to swim away as they approached, granting them the perfect shot.
As they neared the creature, it suddenly raised its tail in a rapid and unexpected motion, delivering a barrage of strikes that proved fatal. Lyons, the sole witness to the tragedy, vividly recounted the harrowing sequence of events in an exclusive interview.
As he continued filming, unaware of the severity of the attack, he panned the camera back to Irwin and was met with a shocking sight: the Crocodile Hunter surrounded by a pool of blood. Panic and urgency set in as they rushed to get Irwin back to the safety of their boat while the venom from the stingray’s barb coursed through his body.
The subsequent minutes were a blur of frantic efforts to save Irwin’s life. As they headed toward the main vessel, Croc One, Lyons and the crew applied pressure to the massive wound on Irwin’s chest. However, the damage to his heart was already extensive, and despite their valiant attempts, it became clear that the situation was dire.
Irwin’s final words echoed in Lyons’ mind: “I’m dying.” In those heartbreaking moments, a legend’s life came to an end. The sudden loss of Irwin shook the world, leaving a void in the conservation community and the hearts of millions as investigations into the incident ensued and tributes poured in from all corners of the globe.
The interview with Lyons, the man who shared Irwin’s final moments, provides an intimate glimpse into the events that led to that tragic day and a poignant reflection on the legacy of a man who dedicated his life to protecting the wonders of the natural world.
In an unexpected twist, the camera crew present during his final moments captured the event on film. The immediacy of the tragedy prompted an investigation by Queensland Police, who were handed the crucial piece of evidence—the tape that documented the events leading to Irwin’s passing.
Speculation ran rampant, fueled by rumors that the footage might be broadcast to the public. Discovery Communications, the network that played a pivotal role in making Irwin a global sensation, promptly addressed the situation, asserting that the footage would never be shown.
Stainton, Irwin’s closest friend and confidant, found himself in the haunting position of having seen the footage firsthand. The raw and distressing nature of what he witnessed led him to unequivocally state that the world would never see the footage due to its deeply disturbing content.
The decision to withhold the footage was not only an effort to honor Irwin’s legacy but also a step to protect the public from the distressing visuals. As investigations concluded, Australian authorities took the unprecedented step of destroying all but one copy of the video depicting Irwin’s final moments.This measure was taken to ensure that the footage would never be made public, shielding the public and Irwin’s fans from the graphic and tragic reality of his passing. In a poignant twist, the ultimate decision regarding the video lay in the hands of Terri, Irwin’s widow.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, Terri revealed that she had received the footage and had made the difficult choice to destroy it. She expressed that the standard protocols for examining such evidence were no longer necessary, marking the end of a painful chapter for her and her family.
With the destruction of the footage, the door to speculation was firmly closed. The Irwin family, in collaboration with Discovery Communications, focused on celebrating Irwin’s legacy through other means.
While the footage of his final moments would never see the light of day, the culmination of his life’s work and dedication to wildlife conservation would be celebrated through a special documentary.
The documentary “Ocean’s Deadliest,” which was being filmed at the time of Irwin’s passing, became a tribute to his unwavering commitment to showcasing the wonders of the natural world. The culmination of this project, featuring footage from the rest of the shoot, was set to air on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.
The two-hour special, which showcased Irwin’s final interactions with wildlife, stood as a testament to his indomitable spirit and his enduring impact on the conservation community.