ORLANDO, Fla. (WIAT) — The body of a two-year-old Nebraska boy has been found after he was grabbed by an alligator from a beach area at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World.
The rescue mission for the toddler eventually turned into a rescue mission after hours passed with no signs of the child.
Wednesday afternoon, officials said the body of the toddler had been found. The child was identified as Lane Graves. His parents are Matt and Melissa Graves, of Nebraska.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says the body was found completely intact, and though they will complete the formal identification process, they do believe it is him. He was found in the immediate area of where he was last seen. Officials say they believe the boy drowned.
Demings said Lane was taken by the gator around 9:16 p.m. Tuesday night at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World Resort.
Wednesday afternoon, officials said Disney World has closed all nine beaches at its resorts in an “abundance of caution.” Officials say the boy is likely dead as he has been gone for over 15 hours.
The sheriff said the alligator attacked while the family was relaxing on a beach area at the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon. The child was wading in the water about a foot from the shore line when he was attacked. He said the father ran into the water and tried wrestle his son from the mouth of the gator, but could not. He believes the mother may have also gotten into the water to try and save the boy. They alerted a nearby life guard, but all efforts were unsuccessful.
Tuesday night, helicopters searched the Seven Seas Lagoon for the boy.
“We’re not leaving until the boy is found,” Sheriff Demings said early Wednesday morning.
The child’s family is visiting from Nebraska, and arrived at the park on June 12, officials said. 50 law enforcement personnel are currently searching the lake, in addition to two marine patrol units, officials 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,” said a spokesperson for Disney.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Fish Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are investigating.
“We’re putting every effort into locating this child and trapping this alligator,” FWC officer Chad Webber said.