It's been nearly eight years since Steve Irwin's death from a a stingray attack, in which his heart was punctured. Only now is his camera man and friend, Justin Lyons, speaking out on exactly how the tragedy unfolded.
He says the stingray attacked while he was ready to film it swimming away. "All of a sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," he tells Australia's "Studio 10." "It probably thought that Steve's shadow was a tiger shark, which feeds on them very regularly."
At first Lyons didn't think anything was wrong and his camera followed the animal. "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," he remembers.
He also says reports that the stingray barb was pulled from Irwin's chest are incorrect, adding, "It didn't come out. Steve didn't pull it out. It's a jagged, sharp barb and it went through his chest like a hot knife through butter."
In the final moments of Irwin's life, Lyons did his best to comfort his friend. "We're saying to him things like, 'Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on," he recalls. "And he just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying,' and that was the last thing he said."
Irwin's daughter, 15-year-old Bindi, has carried on in her father's footsteps, appearing on several wildlife-themed TV shows.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images/Network Ten