Steve Irwin, internationally known documentary film maker, entertainer, and outdoorsman died Monday while filming an underwater documentary. He was 44-years old.
Irwin, known for his enthusiasm and genuine love for nature, died when a stingray, buried in the sand while Irwin was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, stung him in the chest. Despite a direct puncture to the chest, Irwin was captured on film fighting to the end. He was able to remove the fatal stingray barb from his chest in the last moments of his life.
The man called the "Crocodile Hunter" has been offered a state funeral in his native Australia. Irwin will be eulogized in many different ways. He was an educator, bringing a generation of children up with his hands-on animal lessons. He was a naturalist who was, according to his manager, "as good on the water as he was on land" and comfortable wherever there was nature and wildlife. He was also a world-renowned entertainer, appearing on dozens of television shows and hosting numerous documentaries.
The video portraying Irwin's last moments is currently in police custody as officials investigate. John Stainton, Irwin's manager and close friend has called for that tape to be destroyed when officials are done with it.
I say with outward certainty that there is no journalistic value whatsoever in obtaining the videotape of Steve Irwin dying. It would be a great shame on and for any media outlet to allow this tape, even if it is somehow leaked, to see the light of day. There are bounds, and watching a father, husband, and son — even a celebrity father, husband, and son — die would serve no beneficial purpose.
We all feel a little sad today, and many of us wonder why. After all, most of us never met Steve Irwin. He was the loud, utterly happy Aussie who seemed to find beauty in every dangerous animal in the kingdom. But, the man was impossible not to like. He braved the elements time and time again, yet he was one of the least controversial figures in modern entertainment. Known for his outward enthusiasm, if not eccentricities, Irwin was a neutral character in our lives, where otherwise there is strife, grief, and conflict. We are all allowed to feel a little sad for losing that.