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Widow: 'Croc Hunter' thought he'd die young

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SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin always felt he would die early, but that he would be killed in a car wreck and not by an animal, his widow says.

In an interview with Australia's Nine Network that aired Wednesday, Terri Irwin said her husband, who died from the jab of a stingray September 4, had an uncanny way with animals that both of them believed would keep him safe as he caught crocodiles, snatched up snakes and played with other dangerous beasts.

"I never thought it would be an animal, he never thought it would be an animal," Irwin said. "I thought he would fall out of a tree, he thought it would be a car accident."

Asked by interviewer Ray Martin if Irwin believed he would die early, Terri Irwin said, "He had a very strong conviction that he would. To the point where I'm grateful in a way, because we're prepared."

Irwin, 44, died minutes after a stingray's barb pierced his chest while he filmed a TV show on the Great Barrier Reef. His death prompted an unprecedented outpouring of grief in Australia and among millions of fans of his TV show, "Crocodile Hunter."

In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters that was to air Wednesday in the United States, Irwin she said she hasn't seen the film of her husband's deadly encounter with the stingray and that it won't ever be shown on television.

"What purpose would that serve?" the American-born Irwin said. Excerpts of the interview were released in advance by ABC.

Irwin's friend and business partner, John Stainton, has seen the film. He told Walters he never wants to see it again and doesn't want anyone else to see it. "It's just a horrible piece of film tape," he said.

Terri Irwin was on a research trip in Australia with the couple's two children -- 8-year-old daughter Bindi and 2-year-old son Bob -- when her brother-in-law reached her with the news.

"I remember thinking, 'Don't say it. Don't say it. Don't say it,"' she said. "I looked out the window, and Bindi was skipping, skipping along outside the window. And I thought, 'Oh, my children. He wouldn't have wanted to leave the children.' And I knew it was an accident. It was an accident so stupid. It was like running with a pencil."

She said it's important for her family to continue the work her husband did in teaching the world about wildlife.

Irwin told Walters she is getting through her grief "one minute at a time," and said it was important for her family to continue the work her husband did in teaching the world about wildlife.

"I've always told Bindi, 'If anything ever happened to me, I will always watch over you from heaven,"' she said. "But she always understood because living at a zoo, animals die, she's seen death. She knows what death is."

She said her son Bob recently took a screwdriver out of the drawer and said he was going to fix the family's motorbike.

"Off he goes, very carefully carrying it like it was a lit candle," she said. "Goes up to the motorbike and starts poking at it. I said, 'What are you doing to the motorbike?' He said, 'I'm fixing the motorbike so daddy can drive it from heaven.' "

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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Terri Irwin, with children Bindi and Bob, at last week's memorial service.

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