Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Croc Hunter died doing what he loved

“He had it coming,” said the expert on the Dayton, Ohio local evening news.

One would think that in Ohio there would be no experts in the deadly critter wrangling field. Sure, there is the occasional rabid raccoon or opossum, but other than that most of our creatures are of the gentle, woodland, Bambi variety. This fella is no expert. He wouldn’t know how to handle a pit viper’s scat. Why he was commenting on Steve Irwin’s being killed by a stingray is beyond me.

Anyone from this school of thought can go to Hell.
Steve Irwin is what we should all aspire to be. He shared his passion with the world. No doubt, his profession had its risk. Being poisoned, eaten, or drowned are not things that the rest of us concern ourselves with on a daily basis, but everything has its risks. Reckless behavior is taking on something beyond your training, comfort, and skill level. Reckless behavior for me is different than reckless behavior for you and vice versa.

I’m comfortable holding my breath and diving 80’ below the ocean’s surface. Most people aren’t and therefore should not try this at home.

I’m not comfortable snow skiing. If I strapped on a pair of skis, found the steepest downhill in Switzerland, and ran off the edge of a cliff to my death…I had it coming. I’m not trained to fix an electric line. If I climbed up a pole to do so and was electrocuted…I had it coming. I’m not familiar with the behavior of crocodiles. If I try to wrangle one and become eaten in the process…I had it coming.

Steve was a professional and he died doing something that he had the knowledge, experience and training to do. His death was a freak accident. I have never heard of a stingray puncturing a man’s heart with its stinger until yesterday. I would have ventured to guess that only a few people, who were very allergic to stingrays' mild toxin, had ever been killed as a direct result of a stingray.

Working for a few years as a dive instructor, I have had nothing but positive experiences with stingrays. Well, there was that one time… a student of mine did step on one and got stung in the ankle. Occurrences like that aren’t all that uncommon. He cried. Snot came out every hole in his head. He was 14. At no time was his life in danger. I’m sure he thinks it’s cool now.

In 2001 I visited Steve’s Australian Zoo. When I heard about his death I revisited my notes from the experience. Here’s a passage:

Although Steve was not there (he was in the USA on business) his character, humor, and passion could be felt throughout the park. Like everybody else, Steve’s employees thought he was crazy, but for different reasons. They recognized that his passion to educate the world about crocs, snakes, etc. was beyond normal . Last year he gave over $8 million to the Australia Zoo for renovations. That's not something a sane person would do.

A few short days after his death and Steve Irwin, “The Croc Hunter,” is being memorialized and eulogized as a great teacher, conservationist, and wildlife warrior.

He had it coming.


Mrs. M said...

Did you actually hear that comment yourself? I just can't imagine anyone actually saying such a thing as "he had it coming" . That is on the Ann Coulter level of stupidity and callousness. Of course, it happens more often than we'd like to believe. I remember hearing that a former doctor here in U.C. made a similar statement the day President Kennedy was shot. I was shocked.

Kelsey said...

I heard some local game warden/critter catcher on Fox 45 out of Dayton say that. I'm not sure what gave him the authority to say such a thing. I bet that he has never even seen a stingray in the wild.

Somehow, your Kennedy example far outweighs this one in both stupidity and callousness. Now if your said Dr. had his teeth kicked in after making such a comment and someone commented on the beating the Dr. took, saying, "He had it coming," the statement would seem much more appropriate.

I think people say things like this mainly for the attention.

Mrs. M. said...

And a lot of times, they are just plain mean and self-centered people, unfortunately.