Monday, September 04, 2006

The Crocodile Hunter

Depressing! I loved this guy.

THE Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, is dead.

He was killed in a freak accident in Cairns, police sources said today.

It is understood he was killed by a stingray barb that went through his chest and reportedly into his heart .

He was swimming off the Low Isles at Port Douglas filming an underwater documentary when the tragedy occured.

The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) was called about 11am (AEST) and an emergency services helicopter was flown to the crew's boat on Batt Reef, off the coast near Cairns, with a doctor and emergency services paramedic on board.

Irwin had a puncture wound to the left side of his chest and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Irwin's body is being flown to Cairns.

One report today said his American-born wife Terri was trekking on Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and was yet to be told of her husband's death.

The Irwins have two children - a daughter, Bindi Sue Irwin, eight, and a three-year-old son, Robert (Bob) Clarence Irwin.

Steve Irwin - known worldwide as the Crocodile Hunter - is famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchcry "Crikey!".

In an sad twist, it has been reported that his new documentary was aimed at demystifying the stingray.

Irwin's Crocodile Hunter program was first broadcast in 1992 and has been shown around the world on cable network Discovery.

He has also starred in movies and has developed the Australia Zoo wildlife park, north of Brisbane, which was started by his parents Bob and Lyn Irwin.

Tributes have already started pouring in for the larger-than-life character.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who used a photograph of his family at Australia Zoo for his official Christmas card last year, hailed Mr Irwin for his work in promoting Australia.

Irwin was heavily involved in last year's "G'Day LA" campaign.

"The minister knew him, was fond of him and was very, very appreciative of all the work he'd done to promote Australia overseas," a spokesman said.

A Tourism Queensland spokeswoman said the death was shocking and paid tribute to Irwin's "enormous contribution" to his adopted state.

Louise Yates said it was impossible to quantify how much Mr Irwin had meant to the Queensland tourism industry.

"I don't think we could even estimate how much he brought us through his personality and his profile and his enthusiasm about Queensland," she said.

"It would be difficult to estimate how much he was worth. And it would be difficult to underestimate."

She said Irwin had been a larger-than-life ambassador.

"It's not just what he brought but what he took with him when he travelled, his passion."

Australia Zoo, on southeast Queensland's Sunshine Coast, employs more than 500 people and attracts thousands of visitors every day.

But Ms Yates said it would be "unfair and unjust" to put a dollar value on Irwin's worth to the state, because of how much he had given.