Disney gator attack: 2-year-old found dead

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(CNN) The 2-year-old boy who witnesses said was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney World hotel has been found dead by the Orange County dive team, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a Wednesday news conference in Orlando.

The body of the boy, Lane Graves, was found intact about 1:45 p.m., not far from where the boy was grabbed Tuesday night, Demings said.

He likely drowned, Demings said.

gator“Of course, the autopsy has to confirm that, but there is likely no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator,” Demings said.

Demings said the body was found in murky water perhaps 10 to 15 yards from where the boy was grabbed Tuesday night.

The boy’s parents, who are from Elkhorn, Nebraska, were identified as Matt and Melissa Graves.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley said the alligator may have already been caught, but that has not yet been confirmed.

“We’re going to make certain that we have the alligator that was involved, and that we remove it from the lake,” he said.

Forensics teams will try to determine whether one of the alligators already taken from the lake is the one that dragged off the boy. If not, the search for alligators in the lake will continue.

The boy’s family was at a movie night outdoors at the Grand Floridian resort when around 9 p.m. the boy waded into about a foot of water in a lagoon, authorities have said. Witnesses, including the boy’s horrified parents, tried to save him. His father jumped in and tried to pry the gator’s mouth open. His mother jumped in, too.

But it was too late. The child was dragged underwater in the Seven Seas Lagoon, witnesses told authorities. The lagoon is connected to a series of canals that feed into large bodies of water, Wiley said earlier.

The Reedy Creek emergency services call center first received a report about the attack at 9:16 p.m.

A search began for the boy immediately, with boats from Disney searching along with law enforcement.

By midmorning Wednesday, Disney had closed all beaches in its resort area “out of an abundance of caution” after the attack, a Disney representative said.

Wiley said the child was on the edge of the lagoon when the alligator attacked, according to the boy’s family. He cautioned that the investigation is still in an early stage and officials need to interview at least two other families who may have witnessed the attack.

Demings specifically said the child was “wading … along the lake’s edge at the time that the alligator attacked.”

The father suffered minor scratches on his hand trying to save his son.

Demings said there is no record of similar incidents in the area.

A handful of people witnessed the attack and supplied police with information. Witnesses said the family was on the beach, and the boy’s sister was in a playpen about 20 to 30 yards from the water, according to Demings. The toddler was nearby, wading in the water.

There are “No Swimming” signs at the lagoon, and no one but the child was in the water at the time of the attack, Demings said.

Declan Salcido, who was vacationing at the resort with relatives from San Jose, California, said the “No Swimming” signs are visible “from any vantage point.”

The lagoon is not for recreational swimming.

“This is Florida, and it’s not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water,” Demings said.

 

 

 

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