Steve Irwin's Final Words Revealed: What Happened Moments Before "The Crocodile Hunter" Passed

Eight years ago, the world lost an animal lover, a father, and a brave-beyond-words human being. We knew him as The Crocodile Hunter, and today, Steve Irwin's final moments were revealed by the cameraman who witnessed his tragic death. "I'm dying," is all Irwin said as he struggled for life after a sting ray pierced his chest to the point of no repair. The television host was 44 years old when he died after being punctured "hundreds" of times during filming. Justin Lyons, the cameraman who accompanied Irwin to Australia's Great Barrier Reef in September 2006, was the only one to see Irwin's death. The duo had worked together for 15 years before Irwin's passing.

According to Lyons, the pair found a "massive, 8-foot-wide stingray," and when Irwin went to swim up next to the "normally calm animal," something unexpected happened. "All of a sudden, it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail," Lyons said. "Hundreds of strikes in a few seconds... like a knife through butter."

But Lyons didn't even see it happen, and panned the camera to watch the stingray swim away. "I didn't even know it had caused any damage," he said. "It wasn't until I panned the camera back and Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood that I realized something was wrong. I didn’t realize how serious it was. I didn’t know it punctured his heart. I thought maybe it just punctured his lung and we had a good chance of saving him.”

Lyons pulled Irwin to an inflatable boat, and did CPR on the host for an hour. "He just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying.' And that was the last thing he said," Lyons recalls. The medics arrived and pronounced Irwin dead within 10 seconds.

When asked if Lyons would ever release footage of that fateful day, his answer was immediate: "Never," he said. "Out of respect for his family, I would say never."

Rest in Peace, Steve. You are sorely missed.