Steve Irwin’s final moments: ‘We’ve lost him, he’s dead’
The scientist who was with Steve Irwin when he died has opened up about his friend's death, 13 years after the Australian wildlife icon was fatally stung by a sting ray at Batt Reef.
Queensland venom specialist Dr Jamie Seymour told the Hit Network's Carly & Seamus in Cairns about what happened the day the Crocodile Hunter died.
He said he was out on the reef on Croc One with Irwin to film tiger sharks but his friend was getting restless and his sense of adventure kicked in.
"Steve had two gears, asleep or 1000 miles and hour. Think of a kid on red cordial, that was Steve, so imagine you've got him cooped up on a little boat not being able to do anything," Dr Seymour said.
He said he woke up on September 4, 2006, to see Irwin bolting out of the boat. He used the radio to ask what he was doing he was told "he's just gone to film sting rays".
Dr Seymour didn't think much of it so he went to make himself a bowl of cornflakes.
"Next thing you hear … is someone with Steve going 'Steve's been hit by a sting ray'. That's all I heard," he said.
"I've gone 'Oh, okay he's been jabbed in the arm … yeah it won't be an issue.."
He later over heard the skipper on a companion vessel informing the crew that they needed to get Irwin to Dr Seymour immediately.
"I thought, 'Woah, this is a little harder than I thought'."
The vessel transporting Irwin returned to Croc One within minutes and Dr Seymour could see his friend wasn't moving.
"I got down, grabbed him on the shoulders and said 'Steve, are you with me'?"
"You sort of saw a little movement in him and I thought OK, he's not breathing start CPR."
Minutes later he yelled for the crew to stop rescucitating Irwin as he noticed the boat was blowing carbon monoxide directly onto them.
He rushed to radio for help, where he admits he made a mistake he regrets in a time of crisis.
"I was not thinking and I said 'We've lost him, he's dead', I thought 'you idiot, why did you say that?'"
Dr Seymour said he knew it was unlikely Irwin would survive the attack.
"In the back of my head, I'm going it's hit him in the heart … I've got to stop the heart from bleeding. Only way to do that is to crack his chest on the back deck of a boat and find the hole in his heart to plug it and stitch him back up again … I thought, 'What planet are you on! You can't do that', and at that stage I knew we had lost him."
He said he informed the crew to keep trying to keep him alive so they can get him to hospital.
Once Irwin was flown for treatment, Dr Seymour said he broke down.
"Everyone was trying to cope with what was going on. It was a surreal time, it really was."
After 13 years, Dr Seymour said he struggles with reliving that day each year.
He admitted he thought about quitting his work as a toxicologist after Irwin's death but his children urged him to keep going.
He urged Australians to look past Irwin's death, and instead "remember him for what he did which was save the crocs. I don't think anyone else on the planet has had such an impact on the conservation of animals."