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Steve Irwin’s eerie ‘farewell’ speech to his crew before his death – his best friend reveals

An eerie ‘farewell’ speech given by Steve Irwin weeks before his death has haunted his best friend for 15 years.    

Irwin, known professionally as The Crocodile Hunter, died on September 4 2006 at the age of 44 after he was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming a sea animal documentary called Ocean’s Deadliest in Queensland. 

John Stainton, Irwin’s close friend and the producer behind The Crocodile Hunter TV show, was part of the production team and witnessed Irwin’s horrific death first hand. 

‘It was like a ‘finale’ speech. Very weird’: Steve Irwin’s (right) best friend, TV producer John Stainton (left), has recalled the late Crocodile Hunter’s eerie ‘farewell’ speech to his crew weeks before his death 

‘A couple of days before we started the show, he made a little speech to all the crew that were up there catching crocs for his research trip – which I joined at the end with our crew to do the [Ocean’s Deadliest] movie,’ he recalled during an interview with I’ve Got News For You podcast this week.   

‘And it was really weird. He was sort of thanking them all for being who they were and for helping him. It was like a ‘finale’ speech. Very weird,’ Stainton added.  

‘I had this idea on arriving that something was wrong, but it’s just life, you never know what things are going to do to you,’ he added.

Tragic: Irwin, known professionally as The Crocodile Hunter, died on September 4 2006 at the age of 44 after he was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming a sea animal documentary called Ocean's Deadliest in Queensland

Tragic: Irwin, known professionally as The Crocodile Hunter, died on September 4 2006 at the age of 44 after he was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming a sea animal documentary called Ocean’s Deadliest in Queensland

'I had this idea on arriving that something was wrong': Stainton witnessed Irwin's horrific death first hand, and told the Have I Got News For You podcast this week that he 'had a bad feeling' about filming the Ocean's Deadliest documentary in Queensland. Pictured in 2006

‘I had this idea on arriving that something was wrong’: Stainton witnessed Irwin’s horrific death first hand, and told the Have I Got News For You podcast this week that he ‘had a bad feeling’ about filming the Ocean’s Deadliest documentary in Queensland. Pictured in 2006 

Elsewhere in the podcast, Stainton admitted he never wanted to film the Ocean’s Deadliest documentary in the first place.    

 Stainton claimed he’d experienced a ‘premonition’ that he would die during the trip, and even tried to convince Irwin’s investors at Discovery to cancel production. 

He even wrote a will and underwent medical checks to see whether he was dying, but doctors quickly confirmed Staintwon was in fact healthy.    

Bad feeling: In a bizarre twist, Stainton claimed he'd experienced a 'premonition' that he would die during the trip, and even tried to convince Irwin's investors at Discovery to cancel production. John Stainton, Teri Irwin and Steve Irwin are pictured in 2002

Bad feeling: In a bizarre twist, Stainton claimed he’d experienced a ‘premonition’ that he would die during the trip, and even tried to convince Irwin’s investors at Discovery to cancel production. John Stainton, Teri Irwin and Steve Irwin are pictured in 2002 

In a tragic twist, it would be Irwin whose life would end during filming. 

Stainton is widely credited with bringing Irwin to the screen and creating an international phenomenon out of the knockabout Australian wildlife enthusiast.  

Irwin first ‘amazed’ Stainton with footage of catching crocodiles in the 1980s and he was by his side when a stingray took his friend’s life. 

The man behind his success: Stainton is widely credited with bringing Irwin to the screen and creating an international phenomenon out of the knockabout Australian wildlife enthusiast. Pictured: Irwin on the Jay Leno show in 1998

The man behind his success: Stainton is widely credited with bringing Irwin to the screen and creating an international phenomenon out of the knockabout Australian wildlife enthusiast. Pictured: Irwin on the Jay Leno show in 1998 

Special talent: Irwin first 'amazed' Stainton with footage of catching crocodiles in the 1980s and he was by his side when a stingray took his friend's life

Special talent: Irwin first ‘amazed’ Stainton with footage of catching crocodiles in the 1980s and he was by his side when a stingray took his friend’s life 

'It was probably the worst experience I've ever felt': Unfortunately, Stainton was left with the grim task of briefing Irwin's wife Teri and the world's media about Irwin's death. Pictured: John Stainton, Teri Irwin and Robert Irwin at Steve's memorial service in September 2006

‘It was probably the worst experience I’ve ever felt’: Unfortunately, Stainton was left with the grim task of briefing Irwin’s wife Teri and the world’s media about Irwin’s death. Pictured: John Stainton, Teri Irwin and Robert Irwin at Steve’s memorial service in September 2006 

Unfortunately, Stainton was left with the grim task of briefing Irwin’s wife Teri and the world’s media about Irwin’s death. 

‘It was probably the worst experience I’ve ever felt,’ he previously told Australian Story.

Stainton recalled how he walked into his first press conference with reporters but was overcome with emotion and said ‘I can’t do this’. 

Support: Stainton played a key role in helping the family through Steve's death. Above, he's seen with Bob Irwin and an Australia Zoo staff member, two days after the tragedy

Support: Stainton played a key role in helping the family through Steve’s death. Above, he’s seen with Bob Irwin and an Australia Zoo staff member, two days after the tragedy

After a few minutes composing himself, he willed himself to continue, telling himself Irwin would ‘want you to do this.’

He sat down at the front of the room, and told the world: ‘He died what he … he loved doing best. He left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, ‘Crocs rule.’ OK. Questions?”

Irwin is survived by wife Terri, 57, daughter Bindi, 23, and son Robert, 17. 

How they were: Irwin is survived by wife Terri, 57, daughter Bindi, 23, and son Robert, 17. All pictured in 2006

How they were: Irwin is survived by wife Terri, 57, daughter Bindi, 23, and son Robert, 17. All pictured in 2006 

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