The body of a 2-year-old boy dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon by an alligator Tuesday night has been recovered, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
- 2-year-old boy dragged into water by alligator
- Body recovered today
- 5 gators euthanized from lagoon; FWC thinks they are not responsible
- Disney closed all of its beaches Wednesday morning
The incident happened at 9 p.m. at Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort, and the toddler, 2-year-old Lane Graves, was at the edge of the water of the beach on Seven Seas Lagoon when the alligator attacked, according to Jeff Williamson of the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Williamson said the boy's father tried to save his son but was unsuccessful. Williamson said the father suffered cuts to his arms from struggling with the animal. Several witnesses saw the gator drag the boy under the water, Demings said.
Disney World closed all of its beaches Wednesday morning and said the ferries would not be running out of an abundance of caution. Demings says there are signs that say no swimming in the water in that area. But there are no signs that warn of alligators.
Around the 1:45 p.m., divers found the intact remains of the boy. The remains were recovered around 3:30 p.m. The body was taken to Orange County Medical Examiner's Office.
Demings believes the gator drowned the boy.
Orange County Sheriff's Office says Lane Graves was dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon by an alligator while he was on the beach at the Grand Floridian with his family. (Orange County Sheriff's Office)
The Graves family asked Demings to relay that they appreciate all of the prayers, and are thankful to law enforcement.
"It was a tough message to deliver to them, to let them know that, at this point, their son was dead," Demings said.
The Sheriff's Office said they have no record of anything like this happening before at Disney World, and they know of no reports of nuisance gators in the lagoon.
Demings said the family of five was vacationing from Nebraska at the Grand Floridian. They were relaxing on the beach area, wading in the water on the edge of Seven Seas Lagoon.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Nick Wiley said the FWC has euthanized five gators found in the body of water. However, they don't know if one of those gators is responsible for taking the young child. They used sonar and alligator traps in their search efforts.
FWC will use forensic evidence to make sure they have the right gator.
"Although we have some sort of closure, our investigation is ongoing, and we're going to continue to evaluate the evidence we have, and we're going to try to continue searching," Wiley said. "We're going to make certain we have the alligator that was involved."
Wiley said it's very rare for alligators to attack people. According to a FWC statistics report, nine people have been attacked by alligators since 2015. And between 1948 to April 2016, a total of 383 attacks have been recorded by the FWC.
Demings said Disney is cooperating with the operation. FWC said that Disney has a wildlife management system in place, and the agency is called when gators are found on property.
George A. Kalogridis, president of the Walt Disney World Resort, released this statement Wednesday:
"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."
Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, released a statement Wednesday as well:
“As a parent and a grandparent, my heart goes out to the Graves family during this time of devastating loss. My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I know everyone at Disney joins me in offering our deepest sympathies.”
One of The Grand Floridian's pool areas backs up to a beach and the Seven Seas Lagoon. (Christian Menard, via Twitter)
Crime scene tape is up at Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, where a toddler was dragged into the water by a gator. (Shawn Powers, via Twitter)
Spotlights are brought in to assist with the search for a child dragged by a gator at Grand Floridian Resort. (Katherine Popp, via Twitter)