'Keep the cameras rolling': Why footage of Steve Irwin's death remains a mystery 16 years after his death

'The video shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up and spiked him in the chest, and he pulled it out and the next minute he's gone,' the producer said

'Keep the cameras rolling': Why footage of Steve Irwin's death remains a mystery 16 years after his death
As per the online biography of Steve Irwin, 'he tells his camera crew to always be filming' (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: The question of what happened to Steve Irwin's death tape has once again come to light as the world-famous crocodile hunter's 16th death anniversary was observed on Sunday, September 4. The iconic Australian died in 2006 after being stung by a stingray off the Great Barrier Reef while filming a documentary on Batt Reef, Queensland, at the age of 44.

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The incident was allegedly caught on camera, and it shows the exact second that Irwin removed the stingray's stinger from his chest. Soon after, he died over Batt Reef, off the coast of Port Douglas, after losing consciousness. There was much rumor surrounding the footage's air date at the time of his death. 

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According to Tommy Donovan, whose online biography of Irwin can be found on the movie website IMDb, even Irwin believed that the world should see the video, reported Sunday Morning Herald. Donovan claimed that Irwin was adamant about keeping the cameras rolling at all costs. "He tells is camera crew to always be filming," according to the biography. "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. If he died he would be sad if no one got it on tape."

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John Stainton, Irwin's longtime friend and producer, recalled how the crocodile hunter removed the stingray barb from his chest before he lost consciousness and died. Stainton claimed to have seen the video and found it shocking. He said, "It's a very hard thing to watch because you're actually witnessing somebody die. It shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up and spiked him in the chest, and he pulled it out and the next minute he's gone. That was it. The cameraman had to shut down." TV executives decided not to put the footage on air.

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According to Superintendent Mike Keating, police had seen the video of Irwin's demise. "There is no evidence that Irwin was intimidating or threatening the stingray."

Irwin's wife, according to Stainton, was putting on a brave face for the sake of their two children. "I think she's being very strong," he said before the body was flown to the Sunshine Coast, where the family was waiting at their house inside of Irwin's Australia Zoo at Beerwah. Stainton said, "She's very mindful of how she has to control her emotions to get the kids through it."

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Billy Campbell, the President of Discovery Networks, stated that any use of the video documenting Terri Irwin's husband's death would be subject to her approval. Animal Planet is a TV station owned by Discovery Networks. Terri discussed her husband's desire for his camera crew to roll film at all costs in a five-year-old interview with the channel.

On the occasion of Father's Day 2022, Irwin's children with Terri Irwin - Robert and Bindi - took to Instagram to wish their father. 

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Daughter Bindi paid tribute to the iconic crocodile hunter on Instagram and wrote, "Grandpa Crocodile, I know you would’ve been the most incredible grandfather because you were such an extraordinary dad. Thank you for being an amazing guardian angel for Grace."

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