Australian naturalist Steve Irwin has died after being stung in the chest by a stingray while diving on the Great Barrier Reef early today (04SEP06). The charismatic star, dubbed the Crocodile Hunter after his hit TV show, was diving off Australia's northeast coast filming an underwater documentary. Local diving operator STEVE EDMONDSON, whose Poseidon boats were out on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred, confirms, "Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest. "He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury." Although paramedics rushed the 44-year-old to hospital by helicopter, he was dead before they arrived, police said. The daredevil star garnered a cult following for his TV antics, which included wrestling snakes and crocodiles. He also played himself in 2002 movie THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE and made a cameo appearance alongside Eddie Murphy in the 2001 movie DR DOLITTLE 2. Irwin is survived by wife TERRI and their two children, BINDI SUE and BOB CLARENCE.