Australian television star Steve Irwin, known as the ``Crocodile Hunter,'' died after a stingray's barb pierced his heart during the filming of a documentary, police said. The 44-year-old collapsed and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was filming at Batt Reef, near Port Douglas, a popular tourist resort, when the incident occurred about 11 a.m. today.
The freak accident happened while Mr Irwin, 44, was filming an underwater documentary off Port Douglas on the far north east coast of Australia, according to witnesses and emergency officials.
He was stung at about 11am (0100 GMT), according to a statement by his wildlife park Australia Zoo. The crew on the naturalist's boat, Croc One, called emergency services in the nearest city, Cairns, and tried to resuscitate him en route to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter.
Born on February 22 1962 in the southern Australian city of Melbourne, Mr Irwin moved to tropical Queensland where his parents ran a small reptile and fauna park.
He grew up near crocodiles, trapping and removing them from populated areas and releasing them in his parents' park. He took over the park in 1991 and renamed it the Australia Zoo.
Mr Irwin met his US-born wife Terri at the zoo and footage of their honeymoon, which they spent trapping crocodiles, formed the basis of his first Crocodile Hunter documentary.