Steve Irwin has passed away, killed by a stingray. He wasn’t even poisoned or anything! (Stingray poisonings usually just hit the ankle, because they usually happen when someone accidentally steps on the stingray. But the poison’s pretty nasty; the links will fill you in.)
No, the barb in the tail punctured his heart, and as far from trauma hospitals as they were, that was pretty much that. He’s not the first guy this has happened to — but it doesn’t happen often. Between 1989 and 1992, of the 55 Australian fishermen who died in work-related accidents, only one was hit in the chest by a stingray barb. (2% of 55 guys is 1 person.) The Guardian says this is only the third fatal attack in Australia ever; other sources say the second, with the first back in the forties. (Guess they didn’t read that fishery death report.)
For those of you who didn’t know, the “Croc Hunter” persona was just that — a persona. Irwin was naturally something more of a gentle science nerd. But he made up that persona and made it his own to grab human attention at his family’s zoo and teach them something about animals. It worked. And a large chunk of the money he earned went to animals. He also worked in a business where he could spend a lot of time with his wife, which was a blessing for both of them.
The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and hates the lukewarm. Surely Steve Irwin’s life pleased Him. May He wipe the tears from the eyes of his wife and two children, and all those who knew and loved Irwin. May the Lord also look after all his employees, as this is not only a grief to them but a reason to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
(Oh, geez. His wife Terri is trekking in Tasmania away from any phones or outgroup contact. She doesn’t know yet. She might not know for days. And their poor kids… Terrible’s too small a word.)
Aussie Tim Blair has a post with moving and informative comments from readers.
“The best and hopefully not the last, Australian right wing greenie. He cajoled, prodded, sweet-talked or did whatever he thought necessary to promote his passion for the understanding and welfare of our native fauna. But all in good humour….”
“FWIW, my brother in law lives just down the road from Steve and said that he was a lovely bloke in real life. He was just a sincere, nice guy. Just thought that some of your readers might like to know that.”
“He was a great man and a great ambassador for Queensland. Poor bugger… Rays are extremely dangerous…There is a good reason why I’ve ALWAYS cut my line when I jag a ray. Some people like to bring rays to shore or on board the boat and when they do I make myself scarce.”
A doctor’s comment on what one might do:
“Show me, Oh Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days,let me know how fleeting is my life.” Psalm 39:4
So I got home, logged on to smh.com.au, and whoa! Like being kicked in me guts.
We have all been to his zoo. We watched him perform and entertain us. Scolded us. Advised us. Made us laugh. No longer.
My medical mind can’t help but think. Died so quickly? The stinger went through his heart. A stab. Pleural effusion? Cardiac tamponade. Cardiogenic shock. Giving CPR would’ve been futile. Instead, jabbing a 16G needle upwards from his xiphisternum would have made a difference. Could his rescuers have foreseen it? Did they carry such a needle in their first aid kit? If I was one of the rescuers, would I have thought of it? Even if they did, time isn’t on his side.
As a medico, even though I am familiar with death. It’s still not easy to deal with…
Look up at the sky! See! It is still blue, and the birds, they still sing.
A less scientific tribute:
Steve Irwin. What will the ocean be like without you swimming in it? What will the outback be like without you running around?
Even if I stopped watching ‘Crocodile Hunter’ more than a year ago, I’d still stop and smile when I saw I would see it on Animal Planet. Man, I’ll miss your show, your stunts, your accent, your grin, and your boundless energy.
We lost an icon. I thought you’d grow old like your Dad, go croc-hunting with your grandchildren, and that you’d be ther to entertain my children… Well, you left a pretty good legacy. I don’t care about the thing with your baby and the crocodile; you knew what you were doing. I’ll always remember the good things.
I always thought that you were immortal. Now I’m sure you are.
I hope you’re having a blast up there. Down here, it’s “Danger! Danger! Danger!” forever.
From an article on CNN:
“The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet,” his friend and producer John Stainton told reporters in Cairns, according to The Associated Press. “He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, ‘Crocs Rule!’ “
Godspeed Steve! Crikey, we’ll miss you!
Elsewhere on the Web, Aussie webcomic artist David Morgan-Mar is very much in my thoughts. Morgan-Mar’s long-running Irregular Webcomic, an exceedingly regular daily of Lego gags and obscure science and math puns, also includes several long-running story arcs — one of which focuses on “Steve and Terry”, two Australian TV naturalists. Steve has always been a thorn in the side for serious scientist Jane (Goodall), but a worse one for the various obscure Deaths which always fail to keep him dead. (Not even Cthulhu could keep him down, in fact.)
As luck would have it, just such a strip ran today. As Morgan-Mar put it:
“I feel weird, like I’ve created some strange alternate reality where Steve Irwin has woken up in a hospital bed, rather than now being the subject of grief and obituaries.
“I’d swap my moderate success with this comic for that other reality in an instant.”
With most comics, I’d expect the character to retire. But Irregular Webcomic has always had a bittersweet mood to it. So this didn’t disappoint or surprise me:
“I have always publicly denied that the character of Steve is based on Steve Irwin. The fact that Steve (the character)’s wife’s name is Terry, whereas Steve Irwin’s wife is Terri should be abundant evidence that they are different people and any resemblance is pure coincidence. So while we will miss Steve Irwin, Steve and Terry will continue.
“I think he would have wanted it that way.”
I think this is the right decision for Morgan-Mar, though I’d be worried about it elsewhere. The crazy “Croc Hunter” persona will continue making crazy science jokes and teaching humans a few things, and I believe that would indeed please Irwin.
But like Morgan-Mar and the Head Death, I want a word with the Death of “Stung in the Chest by a Stingray”.
(Prediction — several editorial cartoons showing Irwin being carried by angels, with him saying, “Will you look at the size of these wings! Beauuuutiful plumage!”)