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    Steve Irwin's Cameraman Justin Lyons Recalls the Crocodile Hunter's Final Words

    Steve Irwin John Shearer/WireImage

    Steve Irwin's right-hand man, Justin Lyons, is opening up for the first time nearly eight years after the Crocodile Hunter's tragic death.

    Justin and Steve knew one another for 15 years and "were very close," according to the cameraman.

    "I remember it really very clearly," Justin told the hosts at Australian news show Studio 10.

    "We found a massive stingray, this one was extraordinarily large, massive, almost eight feet [long], so it was very impressive. We were only in chest-deep water, and we stood up and talked about what we were going to do, we always made a bit of a plan beforehand if we were going to film underwater.

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    "Stingrays are normally very calm. If they don't want to be around you then they'll just swim away. They're normally very fast swimmers."

    He went on to explain that in the final shot, he panned the camera to focus in on the massive animal and not his pal.

    "I thought this was going to be a great shot and all of a sudden it propped up on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail, hundreds of strikes within a few seconds, they're incredibly powerful animals."

    He added, "[The stingray] probably thought that Steve's shadow was a tiger shark, which feeds on them very regularly, so it started attacking…I didn't even know that it had caused any damage. It wasn't until I panned back that I see that Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood."

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    Justin choked back tears as he recalled his best friend's last words as crewmembers tried to save him.

    "I was saying to him things like, 'Think of your kids, Steve,'" he revealed.

    "He just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying.'

    "It was seconds but it felt like forever. Even if we had been able to get him to an emergency ward at that moment, we probably wouldn't have been able to save him because the damage to his heart was so massive." 

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