According to the accounts:
"In this case he was swimming alongside a bull ray, a big black ray and the cameraman would have been in front, filming him," he said, after speaking with a member of Irwin's crew.
"Steve got probably maybe a bit too close to the ray, and with the cameraman in front, the ray must have felt sort of cornered.
"It baulked but didn't spook and go racing away, which would have been fine. It went into a defensive mode, stopped, turned around and lashed out with its tail, which has a considerable spike on it.
"Unfortunately Steve was directly in its path and he took a fatal wound."
While you might be surprised to see me commenting on Mr. Irwin, I always appreciated his sense of humour and his appreciation of wildlife. While he was extreme at times, he was an avid conservationist and did his best to respect the animal kingdom. (Oh, okay, so holding his kid while feeding an alligator was not the brightest of moves, but he had a number of good points...)
Medical News Today writes a piece on what happened and describes the effects of the 'ray's sting. I hope they are wrong, and the account from the doctor in Adelaide is more correct:
The stringray's barb had knifed through his chest, piercing his heart. Distraught friend and colleague John Stainton said later that Irwin had probably died instantly, so catastrophic was the injury. "I don't think he would have felt any pain," he said. "It was a very unfortunate accident the way it happened. He came over the top of the ray and the barb came up."
Just a tip of respect to mourn the passing of this "character". And, the only person who knew him best should have the last word (from The First Post in the UK):
"My husband has a unique ability to jump through the TV screen and into your lounge," his American wife, Terri, said recently. "He grabs you and drags you into the wild so you share his wonder and excitement."
Tags: Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter