The family of a two-year-old boy that was dragged to his death into the Seven Seas Lagoon by an alligator at Disney World last night spoke of their “shock and grief”.
On Tuesday 14 June, what is supposed to be the happiest place on Earth has turned out to be the location of a horrifying nightmare for the Nebraskan family. At approximately 9pm the young boy, who was on holiday at the Grand Floridian Resort since 12 June, was attacked after ‘wading’ along the edge of the water.
Matt and Melissa Graves – the boy’s parents – watched helplessly as the creature snatched their son Lane as he played on the beach.
The boy’s body was later recovered intact 16 hours after the attack at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa after a search operation.
His parents released a statement which read:
“Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son. We are devastated”.
The man-made lagoon is connected to a series of channels which feed into other large bodies of water in the surrounding area. According to the Sheriff spokesman, around 50 law enforcement personnel including a 10-person diving team from the Orange County Sheriff’s joined what was classified as a “search and rescue” operation in the area.
Helicopters, sonar marine units and an alligator trapper were used in an effort to rescue the toddler.
Despite an unsuccessful overnight search, authorities continued their efforts to find the young boy, and vowed to stop the search until the child is found or recovered.
At least 4 alligators were taken from the lake and killed for examination.
The couple, who also have a daughter, thanked authorities who “worked tirelessly” to try to save their son.
According to Nick Wiley, the Executive Director of FWC, it is “very rare” for people to be attacked by alligators in Florida. No complaints on nuisance alligators in the area have been reported in recent months.
A Disney spokeswoman said: “Everyone here at the Walt Disney World resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement”.
Disney was widely criticised on social media for the lack of warnings on the resort. Resort president George Kalogridis said it would “thoroughly review the situation”.