Major Australian web sites reporting the death of Crocodile man Steve Irwin came to a standstill earlier today with many people unable to access www.news.com.au or www.smh.com.au or NineMSN. According to News Ltd who were the first to report the story it was presumed that the reported death of Irwin was the cause.
According to News Ltd and wire services Irwin was killed in a freak accident in Cairns, police sources said. It is understood he was killed by a stingray barb that went through his chest.
“A lot of the sites seem to be going up and down,” according to News.com.au producer Mark Higginson. “We lost NineMSN entirely. Although we don’t know for sure at this stage, I presume that the Steve Irwin story is to blame. We don’t know yet whether it’s local or international traffic that is responsible for this.”
He was swimming off the Low Isles at Port Douglas filming an underwater documentary when the tragedy occured. Ambulance officers confirmed they attended a reef fatality this morning at Batt Reef off Port Douglas. Irwin’s body is being flown to Cairns.
It is believed Mr Irwin’s American-born wife Terri is trekking on Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and is yet to be told of her husband’s death. Mr Irwin – known worldwide as the Crocodile Hunter – is famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchcry “Crikey!”. The father of two’s Crocodile Hunter program was first broadcast in 1992 and has been shown around the world on cable network Discovery.
He has also starred in movies and has developed the Australia Zoo wildlife park, north of Brisbane, which was started by his parents Bob and Lyn Irwin. A Tourism Queensland spokeswoman today said the death was shocking and paid tribute to Irwin’s “enormous contribution” to his adopted state.
Louise Yates said it was impossible to quantify how much Mr Irwin had meant to the Queensland tourism industry. “I don’t think we could even estimate how much he brought us through his personality and his profile and his enthusiasm about Queensland,” she said. “It would be difficult to estimate how much he was worth. And it would be difficult to underestimate.”
She said Mr Irwin had been a larger-than-life ambassador.
“It’s not just what he brought but what he took with him when he travelled, his passion.” Australia Zoo, on southeast Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, employs more than 500 people and attracts thousands of visitors every day. But Ms Yates said it would be “unfair and unjust” to put a dollar value on Irwin’s worth to the state, because of how much he had given.