|09-04-2006, 12:20 AM||#1|
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Crocodile Hunter killed by stingray
'Crocodile Hunter' Irwin killed by stingray while divingESPN.com news services
BRISBANE, Australia -- Steve Irwin, the Australian television personality, environmentalist and sportsman known as the Crocodile Hunter, was killed Monday by a stingray barb during a diving expedition, Australian media reported. He was 44.
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Steve Irwin, shown here in 2002, was renowned for his enthusiasm.The accident happened while Irwin was filming an underwater documentary on the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Queensland state, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its Web site.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Irwin was diving near Low Isles near the resort town of Port Douglas, about 1,260 miles north of the state capital of Brisbane.
A helicopter carrying paramedics flew to the island, but he died from a stingray barb to the heart, ABC reported on its Web site.
Queensland ambulance service spokesman Bob Hamil confirmed that a diver had been killed by a stingray off Lowe Isles Reef but refused to say who the victim was until relatives had been notified.
A rescue helicopter was sent from the nearby city of Cairns, and paramedics from it confirmed the diver's death.
"The probable cause of death is stingray strike to the chest," Hamil said.
Staff at Australia Zoo, Irwin's zoo in southern Queensland, said they had heard the reports but could not comment.
Irwin is famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchcry "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter," which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 and has aired around the world on the Discovery channel.
He rode his image into a feature film, and developed the Australia Zoo as a tourist attraction. His life's work also took him to Bristol, Conn., where he appeared in one of ESPN's "This is SportsCenter" commercial spots in 2006 wrangling the Florida Gators mascot.
Irwin had received some negative publicity in recent years. In January 2004, he stunned onlookers at his Australia Zoo reptile park by carrying his 1-year-old son into a crocodile pen during a wildlife show. He tucked the infant under one arm while tossing the 13-foot reptile a piece of meat with the other.
Authorities declined to charge Irwin for violating safety regulations.
Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken against him.
Irwin was also seen as a vocal critic of wildlife hunts in Australia. The federal government recently dropped plans to allow crocodile safaris for wealthy tourists in the Northern Territory following his vehement objections.
Irwin told the Australian television program "A Current Affair" that "killing one of our beautiful animals in the name of trophy hunting will have a very negative impact on tourism, which scares the living daylights out of me."
He is survived by his American wife Terri, from Oregon, and their daughter Bindi Sue, 8, and son Bob, who will turn 3 in December.