Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Steve Irwin's last moments caught on tape

Ben Cropp, a cameraman who was on the reef when Steve Irwin was killed, told The Australian newspaper he'd spoken to a member of the production crew who said he'd seen footage of the incident.

The tape shows Irwin in shallow water following a large stingray, Cropp said. The animal "probably felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead, and it felt there was danger and it baulked. It stopped and went into a defensive mode and swung its tail with the spike."

The Australian reported Tuesday that police superintendent Mike Keating said investigators had viewed the footage. "There is no evidence that Mr. Irwin was intimidating or threatening the stingray," he said. "My advice is that he was observing the stingray. There are no suspicious circumstances in relation to the death of Mr. Irwin"

But a rep for the state coroner told the paper, "Queensland police are continuing their investigation into Mr. Irwin's death on behalf of the Cairns Coroner."

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced, though Queensland State Premier Peter Beattie said on Tuesday that Irwin would be given a state funeral if his family approved. Irwin leaves behind his American-born wife Terri, 42, daughter Bindi, 8, and son Bob, 2.

Also on Tuesday, Australia's parliament paused to honor Irwin, who Prime Minister John Howard said had died in "quintessentially Australian circumstances."

Other Australian notables have weighed in as well. Russell Crowe, who was friends with Irwin, said in a statement he was "unable to think about anything else" after hearing of Irwin's death. "He was a great friend of mine. I loved him and I'll be there for his family."


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