Steve Irwin's underwater cameraman explained the horrifying moment the famed Crocodile Hunter was fatally attacked by a stingray.
Sunday (4 September) marked the 16th anniversary of Irwin's tragic death, with heartfelt messages and tributes continuing to pour in for the beloved Aussie.
Although the tape of the stingray attack remains under lock and key, Irwin's right-hand man Justin Lyons previously described the horrific details of that fateful moment while appearing on chat show Studio 10.
As a good friend of the Crocodile Hunter and his trusted cameraman, Lyons was the sole witness of his death.
Speaking in detail about his friend's final moments in the 2014 interview, Lyons revealed that they had been looking for tiger sharks that day while filming for Ocean's Deadliest.
Unfortunately they hadn't had much luck due to a spot of bad weather, and so they decided to get in an inflatable and look for something to film.
"We found a massive stingray," he said, adding that this one was particularly large at around eight-feet wide.
Lyons continued: "Stingrays are normally very calm. If they don't want you to be around them they'll swim away, they're very fast swimmers."
But when they went to get some shots, without warning the animal propped on its front and started stabbing with its tail, landing 'hundreds of strikes' in just a few seconds.
The cameraman went on to explain that the stingray most likely mistook Irwin's shadow for a tiger shark, which feeds on them regularly.
"I didn't even know it had caused any damage," he said. "It wasn't until I pan the camera back that Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood that I realised something had gone wrong."
The first thing Lyons thought of was that they had to get out of the water in case they attracted any sharks.
Elaborating on what had injured Irwin, he explained that the stingray barb was about a foot in length that extended from the middle part of its tail, a bit like a fingernail.
"It's a jagged, sharp barb and it went through his chest like a hot knife through butter," he said.
"He thought it had punctured his lung and he stood up out of the water and screamed, 'It's punctured my lung'."
The team got Irwin onto the inflatable to assess at the situation, at which point they saw there was a two-inch wound in his chest with blood and fluid coming out.
As they rushed to get him back to the main boat and in the hands of paramedics, the Crocodile Hunter was in extreme pain due to the wound and also the venom from the barb.
"He was having trouble breathing," he continued. "But even if we'd been able to get him into an emergency ward at that moment we probably wouldn't been able to save him because the damage to his heart was massive.
"So 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 sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying.' And that was the last thing he said."
Once they got onto the ship, Lyons started CPR, which he carried out for over an hour before they were able to get him to an air ambulance.
Sadly, Irwin was pronounced dead at the scene.
The cameraman finished by saying that the team thought Irwin would 'live forever', adding that if he did die, 'it would always be a crazy silly accident'.
"And as it turns out, that's exactly what it was," he said.Featured Image Credit: Studio 10/SWNS