Wildlife Officials Say They Are "Confident" They Have Removed The Alligator That Killed A Toddler
Florida wildlife officials said they have suspended their search for the alligator that attacked a 2-year-old boy at a Disney World resort.
Florida wildlife officials suspended their search on Wednesday for the alligator that dragged a two-year-old boy into a lake by a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando, adding that they are "confident that the alligator responsible for the attack has been removed."
"This conclusion is based on expert analyses and observations by staff with extensive experience in investigating fatal alligator bite incidents," the commission said in a press statement. "The conclusion took into account the proximity to the attack site of removed alligators and witness descriptions."
A total of six alligators were removed throughout the search.
The conclusion of the investigation comes more than a week after Lane Graves was dragged away by an alligator into the manmade Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
The boy and his family – parents Matt and Melissa Graves and a 4-year-old sibling – were visiting from Elkhorn, Nebraska.
"There's a sandy beach area and the family was out simply relaxing," said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. "They were wading at the water's edge when the alligator attacked the child."
The toddler's father struggled with the alligator to try to save his son, "but was not successful," Demings added. The mother also went after the boy.
The family then alerted a nearby lifeguard that an alligator had attacked their child, Demings said.
Audio of an emergency call obtained by BuzzFeed News captures some of the panic at the scene as an unidentified female caller says, "Someone drowned in the Seven Seas Lagoon Lake."
"Please come to the Grand Coridi—Floridian please," said the caller. Someone drowned in the...in the...Seven Seas Lagoon Lake."
"Do you see the person right now?" asked the operator.
"No, I didn’t," she said. "It’s just like um….the other lifeguard they have the information, but I’m in the pool and I’m talking with you. So I didn’t see anything."
"Are they now pulling someone out of the lake. Is that correct?" asks the operator.
“Yes," said the woman.
“Ok. We have no information," said the operator. "Can you see them right now?”
“No, I can’t see them.”
The boy's body was found in tact around 1:45 p.m. that Wednesday by a sheriff's department dive team.
Orange County Medical Examiner determined the toddler died of drowning and traumatic injuries.
A team of 50 Orange County sheriff's officials were deployed to locate the alligator, which was estimated to be four to seven feet long, and the boy's body, with Marines assisting with sonar devices.
A Walt Disney World representative said said that everyone at the resort "is devastated by this accident."
The resort closed its beaches and said it would be conducting a "swift and thorough" review of its protocols.
"This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings," said resort Vice President Jacquee Wahler said.
Video from the hotel showed guests watching the fireworks show as a helicopter searchlight hovered nearby on Tuesday night.
The hotel is on the waterfront of the lagoon, which also borders the theme park.
Nick Wiley, the executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said that Disney routinely removes alligators from its property with help from the commission.
“There are no words to describe the profound sadness we feel for the family of Lane Graves,” said Wiley. “We will continue to keep this family close to our hearts as they deal with the pain and grief of the loss of Lane.”
The commission said alligator attacks are a "very rare occurrence" in Florida. It was first such incident at the Disney resort in all its 45 years, said Orange County Sheriff Demings.