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SHOCKING footage of the moment Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray remains hidden from the public as mystery surrounds the tape's location.
The beloved Australian conservationist died on September 4, 2006, after being pierced in the chest by the creature's venomous barb while filming a new TV show.
His camera crew caught the entire horror incident – including Steve's final words – on tape while filming the documentary Ocean's Deadliest at the Batt Reef near Port Douglas.
All copies were handed over to authorities for their investigation and once it was complete they were all destroyed – except one.
Steve always insisted his team caught everything on camera when filming for TV – no matter how grim the situation.
The harrowing footage has never been made public and the whereabouts of the final existing tape remains a mystery 16 years on from the 44-year-old's tragic death.
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Steve's crew frantically tried to revive the Crocodile Hunter star before paramedics performed CPR at the shore, but the dad-of-two sadly died before getting to the hospital.
His best mate and John Stainton told CNN's Larry King back in 2006: "When that (the tape) is finally released, it will never see the light of day. Ever. Ever.
"I actually saw it, but I don't want to see it again."
Steve was pierced through his heart by a stingray after swimming above the eight-foot creature.
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It is thought the usually harmless fish mistook the animal expert for a shark.
Steve told his crew the barb had "punctured me lung", unaware it had gone through his heart.
Cameraman Justin Lyons, who filmed the tragic incident, said: "As we're motoring back, I'm screaming at one of the other crew in the boat to put their hand over the wound, and we're saying to him things like, 'Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on'.
"He just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying'. And that was the last thing he said."
Stainton vowed to ensure the video was never made public during a heartbreaking interview in 2006.
He said: "I would never want that tape shown."
All copies of the footage, except one tape, were destroyed after the investigation into Steve's death.
It has previously been reported his widow Terri was handed the last copy.
But she has said there is still a copy sitting in a police vault.
She told You magazine in 2018: "After Steve died, 100 million viewers watched video of his death that was released on YouTube.
"That film was a complete fabrication exploiting people’s sadness.
"I have never watched the real footage. Why would I?
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"I know how my husband died and I was relieved that the children weren’t on the boat as they usually would be; it would have been horrendous if they had witnessed it."
Terri continues to run Australia Zoo – founded by Steve's parents Bob and Lyn in 1970 – with her and Steve's two kids, Bindi and Robert.
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