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Steve Irwin's director and cameraman, who were present when the Australian zookeeper and TV personality was killed by a stingray, revealed the star's final words when he was being rushed off for medical treatment.
This Saturday (4 September) is the 15th anniversary of the beloved Aussie animal activist's death while filming on Batt Reef, which led to an outpouring of grief from around the world.
Steve, who shot to fame for his good-nature and humour - as well as his obvious love for animals - on the show Crocodile Hunter, wasn't even supposed to be in the sea on the day of his death.
He had been set to film for a show called Ocean's Deadliest, but that had been called off because of inclement weather.
Bored in the hotel with his cameraman Justin Lyons and director John Stainton, they decided to head off to the reef near Port Douglas to get some footage for his daughter Bindi's show Bindi the Jungle Girl.
At the time, Stainton said: "He had been filming for his own show, Ocean's Deadliest, but suddenly he said he was off to seek out some normally harmless stingrays.
"It should have been an innocent encounter for a TV show aimed at children."
However, a 220lb bull stingray - measuring 2.4 metres wide - behaved unusually aggressively and stabbed Irwin with 'hundreds of strikes in a few seconds'.
Justin kept filming, thinking that nothing had happened, but when his camera turned he saw Irwin covered in blood.
They hurled him back onto their dinghy and started to rush for emergency medical treatment.
Justin said: "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 and Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood that I realised something had gone wrong."
On the boat, it became clear that Steve might not survive.
Justin continued: "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.
"As we're motoring back I'm screaming at one of the other crew in the boat to put their hand over the wound and we're saying to him things like, 'Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on'.
"He just calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying.' And that was the last thing he said."
Once they got back to the main boat, Croc One, Justin performed mouth-to-mouth on Steve for an hour, but paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Afterwards, his devastated wife Terri - with whom he shared kids Bindi and Robert - said that Irwin had regularly stated he didn't think he'd live to be an old man.
She told ABC News: "You know he never thought he would have a long life.
"He just always kind of had this sense that his life would be cut short."
Terri also said that Steve had talked about retiring to spend more time with the family before his untimely death.
She added: "I remember him saying to me 'I don't think I'm going to film anymore; I think I'm just going to spend time with my kids.'
"I remember him at the airstrip waving goodbye. That was the last time we saw him."
Steve left behind a lasting legacy remembered around the world, and his children have taken up his love of animals and are honouring his memory through their own careers.
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