LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the body of a toddler who was dragged by an alligator into a Disney lake has been recovered.
The victim has been identified as 2-year-old Lane Graves. His parents are Matt and Melissa Graves from Elkhorn, Nebraska. The family was vacationing at the Grand Floridian Resort.
"There's no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator," Demings said.
Florida Fish and Wildlife trappers have already euthanized five alligators found in the lake. They hope to identify which alligator grabbed the boy.
Disney officials have closed all of the beaches at their resorts following the incident. The measure to close the beaches was taken "in an abundance of caution," Disney said.
According to investigators, a 911 call was placed around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday and emergency crews began searching the shoreline of the Seven Seas Lagoon, near the resort. Fifty law enforcement personnel were deployed, including two marine units with the Sheriff's Office. In addition to a ground and water search, a helicopter was used from above.
Demings said the incident happened as the boy was wading in the water along the lake's edge. "It is my understanding, the father was very nearby and the child was playing in the water, with his foot in the water," said Demings.
Demings said the attack happened in an area where "no swimming" signs were posted. The alligator was estimated to be 4 to 7 feet in length, but its exact size was not known.
Deputies have spoken with several witnesses who offered their accounts of what happened. According to the sheriff, the father tried to rescue the child but was unsuccessful.
"Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family," said Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler in a brief statement. "We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement."
In addition Walt Disney Company's chief executive officer, Bob Iger, released the following statement: "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."
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