Fans of the late Steve Irwin are once again debating whether the rumored footage of his death should be made public.
September 4th marked 16 years since the famed Crocodile Hunter died while filming his hit television series. His passing came after a stingray pierced his heart with its barb. And evidently, the camera crew caught to horrific moment on camera. But they did so because Irwin explicitly asked them to.
Irwin’s biographer, Tommy Donovan, shared that the zoologist told his crew “to always be filming” no matter what.
“If he needs help he will ask for it,” Donovan remembered. “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.”
So, that is exactly what they did. When the stingray attacked, Steve Irwin pulled the barb from his chest and collapsed moments later. And the crew dutifully captured all of it.
Following the incident, networks opted out of airing the footage stating that it would be too “shocking” for audiences. And to date, only the police, select members of the Crocodile Hunter production team, and Irwin’s family have seen the footage.
“It’s a very hard thing to watch because you’re actually witnessing somebody die,” producer John Stainton told CNN’s Larry King Live in 2006. “It shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up and spiked him here [in the chest], and he pulled it out and the next minute he’s gone. That was it. The cameraman had to shut down.”
Steve Irwin Fans Are Still Asking to Watch the Horrific Footage
All these years later, and people are still at odds about whether or not the video should be released. But if it’s up to Stainton, no one else will ever witness the heartbreaking moment. He actually asked the network to destroy the tape once the coroner watched.
“When that is finally released [from the coroner], it will never see the light of day, Ever. Ever. I actually saw it,” he said. “But I don’t want to see it again.”
In 2007, the investigating authorities announced that they had done as Stainton asked and destroyed all copies except for one, which they gave to Irwin’s widow, Terri. She admitted that she knew her husband asked his death to be filmed. But she understandably couldn’t bring herself to watch, so she also destroyed her copy.
However, in 2018, a “fabricated” video of his death landed on YouTube that raked in “100 million” views. While that video was fake, she admitted that there is another copy hidden in a police vault somewhere. But both she and the cameraman who filmed it hope it stays there forever.
“Never (should it be seen), out of respect for everyone and his family, I would say no,” the cameraman said. “I don’t know what’s happened to it and I hope it would never see the light of day.”