Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won world-wide acclaim, was killed by a stingray barb through the chest on Monday while diving off Australia's northeast coast, emergency officials and witnesses said.
"Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest," said local diving operator Steve Edmondson, whose Poseidon boats were out on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred.
"He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury," he said.
Police and ambulance officials later confirmed Irwin had died and said his family had been advised.
Irwin, 44, was killed while filming an underwater documentary off Port Douglas.
Irwin had been diving off his boat "Croc One" near Batt Reef northeast of Port Douglas. A helicopter had taken paramedics to nearby Low Isles where Irwin was taken for medical treatment but he was dead before they arrived, police said.
Irwin won a global following for his dare-devil antics but also triggered outrage in 2004 by holding his then one-month-old baby while feeding a snapping crocodile at his Australian zoo.
He made almost 50 of his "Crocodile Hunter" documentaries which appeared on cable TV channel Animal Planet and won a world-wide audience.
The series ended after he was criticised for the incident with his young son and for disturbing whales, seals and penguins while filming in Antarctica.
Khaki-clad Irwin became famous for his seemingly death-defying methods with wild animals, including crocodiles and snakes.
He made a cameo appearance alongside Eddie Murphy in the 2001 Hollywood film Dr Dolittle 2 and appeared on US television shows such as The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and on children's television alongside The Wiggles.
Irwin was married with two children, Bindi Sue, 8, and Robert (Bob) Clarence, 3.
His American-born wife Terri was his business partner and frequent on-screen collaborator.
Truely sad to hear. Aussi's "Iron Man" died? Can't believe it one bit. Just when everyone thought that nothing on this very planet could ever kill him, he gets it from a stingwray. I love his spastic all-or-nothing & truely fearless attitude! I feel sorry that one of the last thing ppl will remember about this man is media madness when he held his son while feeding an alligator. Some ppl rly need to chill! I mean, he's the croc hunter for shit's sake I think he has feeding an alligator under his control. Noticed I try not to put the dead's names in past-tense. He will live on in this world as a legacy. Who else do you know that wrestles with alligators & snakes!? To leave a person's name in past-tense like they never mattered or ceased to be just doesn't seem right to me. I hope he will continue to live on in people's hearts. Rest In Peace you crazy bloke!
BTW: I wanted to post some links to various video clips of Steve's show appearances & documentaries but it seems the only thing on every1's mind on (video website's name here) just posts dumb shit like impressions poking fun at his accent & craziness... Well you know how things go in this world, you have to die to get recognition. In a couple of weeks or so there will be tons of videos you can buy about him & compilations of his documentaries as well as tv box sets on sale, special sets, special prices, all because every1's gotta make a profit off some1's death. Hopefully his family will be alright see through such a tough time in their lives.
UPDATE: Ahh here we go... here's a video tribute to Steve Irwin
~Eternal "R.I.P. Steve Irwin" Fallout