Toddler’s Body Found After Alligator Attack at Disney Resort in Orlando

Alligator Attacks Child at Disney World
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

UPDATED: The 2-year-old boy who was attacked by an alligator and dragged underwater near Disney World in Orlando on Tuesday has been found dead, authorities said Wednesday afternoon.

The child, who was identified as Lane Graves, was found — his body “completely intact” — around 10:45 a.m. PT not far from where he was grabbed, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

“There is no reason for us to believe that the body that was recovered is not that of Lane Graves,” Demings said.

Demings said he believes the boy drowned.

“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.

“There’s no question they will lose a 2-year-old child,” Demings said during a press conference earlier on Wednesday. “It has been 15 hours since, we are working on recovering the body of the child at this point. The ultimate goal is to bring closure to the family.”

Disney temporarily closed all resort beaches as a cautionary move on Wednesday morning in response to the alligator attack.

“As a parent and a grandparent, my heart goes out to the Graves family during this time of devastating loss,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I know everyone at Disney joins me in offering our deepest sympathies.”

The Sheriff rejected the notion that Disney was to blame, saying the theme park “works diligently to ensure that their guests are not unduly exposed to wildlife here.”

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the child was playing in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa when he was attacked by the reptile, believed to be between 4 feet 7. The child’s father rushed into the shallow water to wrestle the boy from the alligator, but was unsuccessful.

Officials quickly responded to the scene and taped off the area.

The victim’s family had traveled to Disney World on vacation from Elkhorn, Neb., with their three children, Demings told reporters outside the resort. The boy’s mother had also been nearby when the attack occurred around 9:15 p.m. PT Tuesday night.

Nearly 50 rescuers, including Wildlife Fish and Game officials, were still searching for the little boy as of 2:00 a.m. ET.

A visibly shaken spokesman for the Walt Disney Company also addressed the media: “Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident,” she said.

The upscale resort is one of three hotels located near the monorail line near the Magic Kingdom Park.

One hotel guest told the Orlando Sentinel that he and his family were playing near the beach when the attack took place.

“I’m just here to say a prayer,” the guest said. “I can’t imagine what those parents are going through. It’s been one tough week in Orlando.”

The man-made Seven Seas Lagoon is surrounded by a beach and several outdoor pools and bars.

A number of families were outside enjoying “Movie Night” at the resort during the brutal encounter.

“We’re going to hope for the best,” Demings told reporters, “but based upon my law enforcement experience we know we have some challenges ahead of us.”

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  1. LeRoy Brown says:

    You just can’t take your children to these entertainment facilities and think you do not have to still keep an eye on them. When you are a parent, you can never, ever lower you guard, not even for one minute. Keep your children with you, close by, at all times. What ever happened to the times when no one had to tell parents these things?

  2. Murky Waters says:

    This is going to be one gell of a lawsuit when the parents can come back to their rational minds and realize the negligence on Disney’s part. Watching Nancy Grace tonight I learned that the only signs they post up around the hotel are, NO SWIMMING, PLEASE!, signs. And that they have staff members that walk the area around the clock scouting for gators. A top notch attorney is going to use those facts to have a field day in a court of law. First of all, when you hire workers to specifically walk the grounds and watch out for gators, then you can’t say that you are or were unaware gators were in that water. Secondly, a no swimming, please sign doesn’t suggest the same impact as, SWIMMING PROHIBITED, ALLIGATOR SIGHTINGS, or WARNING, etc. Disney will probably offer up a compensation without going to court. And they should. They gave a million dollars to the night club massacre go fund me account without hesistation, so I ‘m sure they’ll do the right thing here. That poor mom and dad must be losing it right about now. If there had been alligator warning signs posted, that dad would have thought twice before letting his son walk in that murky water.

    • EricJ says:

      The main reason there’s “No Swimming” is that the bacteria count in most of Central Florida’s unchlorinated water is too high for safety. If alligators wander in too, that’s not good either, but even swimming in natural water without gators isn’t recommended for your health. (The old River Country waterpark from the 70’s had to be closed more for that one reason than the other.)
      And a lot of people were on the beach that night, it was the resort’s beachside-movie night (which they have most nights), so was no one was “neglectful” in taking their kids onto the sand around dusk.

      And MJD pointed out, the Lagoon was connected by channels to Bay Lake, which is on the edge of woodsy nature-reserve property for local wildlife, and Disney’s property is centered in an area of mostly-undeveloped land away from the city. Gators are common enough on Florida golf courses as well as lakeside resorts, anywhere there’s secluded water, and for Florida animal-control, they’re as common as raccoons in your garbage can, only harder to shoo away.
      No one jumped a fence, it’s just a case of knowing a bit about Florida if you’re going to travel from Nebraska.

  3. Clarke says:

    This is very, very sad. LOTS of terrible crap happening at Disney the past few years. LOTS, including sexual assaults of children.

  4. Nanny Mo says:

    So sad. Much love to the family. Yes, there are alligators in Florida waters. We had one in our golf course pond for a while (and didn’t know). Too many people today think that reality is Disney-like and it’s not. There are mean people out there wanting to hurt our nation and there are sometimes wild animals in the lake. Please don’t live in fantasyland and please vote intelligently this next election cycle. Reality is real.

  5. Steve says:

    This is such a horrible story. Here in Florida, one must always be aware when near fresh water. I wonder if these parents weren’t mindful of the possible danger due to where they come from.

  6. nobody important says:

    Enter the comments at your own peril. Here be morons and people trying to reason with them. It isn’t a pretty sight.

  7. Conscientious Objector says:

    The sheriff described the body as “completely intact.” A two-year-old gets attacked by a full-grown alligator…and is intact? Please tell me I’m not alone in thinking that’s really odd. And if you look at YouTube videos of this area, people are on jet skis all over the place, ducks are floating around. It’s a man-made lake inside a theme park, not a real lagoon. The water comes right up to the hotel sidewalk, there are other swimming pools nearby, the gators could be all over the place. 40 years and this has never happened. Peculiar?

    • MJD says:

      Just because it is a man-made lake doesn’t make it devoid of wildlife. It is connected via waterways and a lot of wild, undeveloped land, to various other major bodies of water. Gators get into everything from retention ponds to swimming pools. Disney constantly relocates them and they are very vigilant about it, and the gators themselves tend to avoid areas where people congregate. This seems like a perfect storm sequence of events, a freak occurrence, but there’s no doubt some major changes are going to be made to the area protocols.

      Who knows by what miracle the child was intact. Maybe the gator was just freaked out enough by all the commotion to drop the baby and not eat it – but I am thankful for the parents’ sake they can bury their baby instead of the alternative, which is just unspeakably awful.

    • mirabella says:

      Hey douchebag, it’s a large man made (since the 70’s) nature preserve. What that 2 yr old was doing in the water after dark – and nobody by his side is a shocker and neglectful. Just like the kid who jumped in the gorilla enclosure. Tragic but fawking human idiots.

      • jonf says:

        He was not unattended. His parents were a few feet away watching him. This was at the hotel where there is a beach at the waterside, and people have been staying for decades without an incident: there was no reason for them to feel unsafe. There were no warnings about alligators around. (Other hotels have alligator warnings — I’ve been there — I don’t know why this one wouldn’t.) I understand it makes you feel better to assume this was their fault and could never happen to you, but imagine if you took your toddler to an upscale resort hotel in the mountains and a bear or mountain lion ran up and carried him off. Trying to blame the parents is ignorant and simply horribly cruel on your part. I can only imagine how despondent they must be, and feel nothing but heart-broken sympathy for them. Your only thought as the parent of a toddler is to make them feel safe, loved, and happy; and to have what should have been a joyous family getaway turned suddenly into this horror is beyond comprehension.

      • Conscientious Objector says:

        It’s summer. The sun was up and the father was right there. How you manage to be illiterate yet still type is amazing.

  8. Spike says:

    THEY NEED TO RELOCATE GATORS OR SHUT DOWN THE LAGOONS

    • MJD says:

      They do relocate them, all the time, but gators have this annoying habit of ignoring all those “no trespassing” signs they put up, and showing up where and when they please. The land Disney is built on is a wildlife and nature preserve and the lagoon is a necessary part, both of the local ecology, and the physical structure, of the parks. Educate yourself before you spout off such nonsense.

  9. Lorenzo Sebastian says:

    other news agencies are reporting that his lower extremities/limbs were missing as well as one arm. No way would the body be intact after an alligator attack.

    • Conscientious Objector says:

      No, the video of the sheriff’s statement is on CNN and ABC, and he uses the phrase “COMPLETELY intact.” Hello?! I sense a wrinkle in this story!

      • MJD says:

        The missing lower extremities happened in a different case last year where a guy was hiding from the cops and got attacked.

  10. Spike says:

    BIG, REALLY BIG LAWSUIT COMING, DISNEY BOYS.

  11. MJD says:

    Since people have been playing on this beach for over 40 years and NEVER has anyone been attacked by an alligator, I think it was reasonable for parents to believe their kids were safe. Disney has no signs in the area warning of alligators specifically, though it does tell people not to swim in the lagoon. These people are from Nebraska. They may have had zero idea of the possibility of gators in the lake; most people seem to believe Disney has control of all wildlife in the resort.

    All accounts say the child was close to or with his father when taken. They weren’t dangling the kid over a gator pit. You weren’t there, so if anyone needs to be reviled and ridiculed it is self-righteous ignorant trolls making accusations from the safety of their smartphones and computer screens. Go be a jerk somewhere else and leave these poor traumatized people alone.

  12. jonf says:

    How dare you. He was playing in a few inches of water in the presence of his parents. His father immediately jumped in to try to rescue him, he wasn’t inattentive. I can’t imagine you’ve ever had a child. You are a sick sick disgusting person to try to blame the parents for a horrible tragedy like this. Crawl back into your little self-righteous hole and please leave your disgusting attitude to yourself.

  13. This tragedy could happen , and has happened, to many children of all ages- A parent leaving a child unattended

    • jonf says:

      How dare you. He was playing in a few inches of water in the presence of his parents. His father immediately jumped in to try to rescue him, he wasn’t inattentive. I can’t imagine you’ve ever had a child. You are a sick sick disgusting person to try to blame the parents for a horrible tragedy like this. Crawl back into your little self-righteous hole and please leave your disgusting attitude to yourself.

      • jonf says:

        This comment was intended for the previous poster… The “Reply” button on this site is in an ambiguous spot. Still, I don’t think this was the result of parents leaving a child unattended. They were with him at the moment it happened. You should not judge. The parents are undoubtedly in terrible pain from a tragedy that was not their fault, and your comments are unwelcome and just plain cruel.

  14. Jon Dargua says:

    “Based on my law enforcement experience”

    Yes, it is typically hard to get alligators to obey the law

  15. Be Creative says:

    FLORIDA KNOWS Alligators are everywhere and can be ANYWHERE near fresh water – so WHY would they build a MAN MADE Pond – and then put beaches and pools by it FOR TOURISTS?

    Entice people to sit by the water as if they were in the North? It ISN’T! It’s FLORIDA!

    • Disney property is 47.7 sq miles of swamp;and. (For reference, San Francisco is 46.9 sq miles.) This is not a pond. It is a huge lake connected to another huge lake. Alligators are impossible to keep out, but attacks are incredibly rare. People have been enjoying movie nights and campfires on those beaches for 30 years without incident. For the record, swimming and wading in the lagoons/lakes there is not allowed and signs are posted everywhere stating this. Sharks also attack people in oceans (more frequently than gators attack people) so why on earth would tourists ever, ever relax on a beach by the ocean????

  16. Bob says:

    OMG, that’s the THIRD horrific story set in Orlando! WTF?

    • Why in the hell are those alligators there in the first place?

      • MJD says:

        Mirabella you had me until the line about the child not being watched in the water. Are ANY of you self-righteous idiots actually reading these articles? The child’s father was RIGHT BESIDE HIM when he was grabbed. He chased the gator and attempted to get the child away. This was in no way the fault of the parents, beyond wading at the edge of the lagoon when the signs state not to enter the water. That was foolish, but in their defense, when nothing like this has EVER happened in 40 years, it’s easy to be off your guard.

        God, people. READ. And stop projecting your own insecurities. Something horrible happening to someone else’s child does not by default make you a better parent.

      • mirabella says:

        Nobody swims in that water, tourists think it’s funny to feed wild animals, it’s dark out, a 2 yr old is not being watched IN THE WATER and this was the result. It’s a wildlife refuge all around there. Maybe next time a brat kid will jump into an Animal Kingdom enclosure.

      • Yea. I see. LA Disney is a safer place. No big lizards anywhere.

      • dawn says:

        Because it’s Florida, and alligators were there before Disney, and will be there when Disney is gone. Pest control relocates the big ones when they sneak into the park waterways, but they can cover a lot of ground in a day, and you can’t stop them from doing what they do. This is horrifying.

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