Boy’s Body Found After Gator Attack at Disney Resort
By Kai EL’ Zabar
The deceased body of the toddler, identified by authorities as Lane Graves (the 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was attacked and dragged into a lake by an alligator at a Walt Disney World resort), was “completely intact” when it was discovered about 10 to 15 feet away from shore, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
Father and son were in water clearly marked “No swimming.” A sign denoting ‘danger of alligators’ was not posted.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office dive team located the body around 1:45 p.m. and recovered at 3:30pm. The body has been turned over to the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, Sheriff Demings told reporters. “Autopsy has to confirm, but there’s likely no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator,” he continued. “The child was found within the immediate area of where he was last seen. It took some time to go through, but our divers were able to locate the body using sonar equipment.” Authorities will formally identify the body, but there is “no reason” to believe that the body recovered was not Lane, Demings noted.
Executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Nick Wiley said five alligators have been taken from the lake and euthanized. However they continue to search for additional gators to make sure. He said there is a “good chance” one of these alligators attacked the boy. Investigators will analyze teeth marks to make a determination.
Disney has a “very proactive program” of routinely removing alligators that pose a threat, Wiley said. The company is in constant contact with the FWC to remove alligators, he added.
Demings informed the boy’s parents, Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska, that their son’s body was found, calling it a “tough message to deliver.” A Catholic priest accompanied him to deliver the message, he said.
The Sheriff reported live on television that , the family appeared relived that their child’s body was found, however they remain distraught over their loss The family also said, “they do appreciate all of the prayers that have gone forward to allow those of us working to do our jobs to recover their son so that they can move forward at this time with a proper burial,” according to Demings.
George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement that “there are no words to convey the profound sorrow we feel for the family and their unimaginable loss. We are devastated and heartbroken by this tragic accident and are doing what we can to help the family during this difficult time. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we offer our deepest sympathies.”
Rescue teams were initially hopeful that they would find the boy alive. The search for the boy’s body in the Seven Seas Lagoon, an artificial lake located on Disney property, lasted more than 16 hours.
Earlier today the resort had temporarily shuttered its beach areas and recreational marinas in the wake of the gator attack.
Demings reported that about 50 people from the sheriff’s office alone assisted in the recovery effort.
Numerous rescue crews combed the lake with sonar equipment. Also brought in to assist were experienced alligator trappers to help with the recovery effort, officials said.
Enjoying the evening after watching a movie on the beach the 2-year old victim, Lance Graves was playing along of the shore of the water when the alligator snatched and dragged him into the lake, officials said. The family was sitting by the area observing the toddler.
The alligator’s attack took place approximately 9:15 p.m. Eyewitnesses saw the attack and stated no one else was in the water at the time.
Unfortunately, the father who entered the water and tried to grab his son from the alligator was not successful. The mother followed to asset but the predator was too strong , too fast.
After the boy’s parents failed attempt at rescuing their son they alerted a nearby lifeguard that an alligator had attacked their son.
Disney is the parent company of ABC News.