Thu 6 Sep 2007
It’s been 367 days since the death of Steve Irwin, just over a year since headlines around the world proclaimed “Crocodile Hunter Dies in Freak Sting-Ray Accident.” The world is doubtlessly a emptier, sadder place without him, and I can’t imagine anyone misses him more than his wife and daughter. But on this (sort of) anniversary, I want to take a step back and say — quite seriously — that there is something both awesome and aweful about a man who goes out that way.
“Crocodile Hunter Dies in Freak Sting-Ray Accident.” It reads like a headline from (the now defunct) Weekly World News, but it was his life. By all accounts, Steve Irwin pursued what he loved with an insatiable passion, and he died pursuing what he loved.
As severely reductive and disrespectful it is to imagine his last moments as a piece of fiction, I can’t help but think that no novel about a crocodile hunter could end more perfectly poetic — it seems at once both shocking and inevitable. I think that’s telling.
The sting ray is gentle and silent, its form mysterious and alien. It is the Unknown, something Irwin spent his life searching for and trying to understand. Would that we all could be so fearless and dedicated.