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Body of 2-Year-Old Dragged Into Water by Alligator Near Disney Found: Sheriff
19:27   |   15/06/2016

Florida authorities have found a body believed to be that of a 2-year-old boy who was dragged off by an alligator Tuesday night at Disney resort.

The Nebraska toddler was playing in the water on a beach area near Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at around 9:16 p.m. Tuesday when the alligator snatched him and pulled him underwater in front of his horrified parents, authorities said. The father tried to get his son back, but wasn't able to, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

Demings said the boy's body was spotted at about 1:45 p.m. ET Wednesday, and fully recovered at about 3:30 p.m. Demings, accompanied by a Catholic priest, told the parents their child was found and the body was intact.

"It was a tough message to deliver to them, to let them know that at this point, their child is dead," Demings said. "Of course, the family was distraught but also I believe somewhat relieved that we were able to find their son ... so they can come to grips with what has happened," Demings said.

son ... so they can come to grips with what has happened," Demings said.

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Lane Graves, a 2-year-old boy who was dragged off by an alligator Tuesday night at a Disney resort. 

Demings identified the parents as Matt and Melissa Graves from Elkhorn, Nebraska, and said the young boy was named Lane Graves. The Graves also have a 4-year-old daughter who was with them at the Seven Seas Lagoon when Lane was snatched, he said.

There are "no swimming" signs near where the attack occurred but no signs warning against alligators, a Disney spokesperson confirmed.

While an autopsy has not yet been done and a formal identification has not been made, there is no reason to believe the body is not that of Lane. The alligator is believed to have drowned the child, he said.

The tragic discovery brought to a close a search that involved more than 50 law enforcement officials, including Marine units who relied on sonar equipment to scour the lake. Initially a search-and-rescue operation, Demings said at a noon press conference there was "no question" the boy was dead after so many hours underwater and that the hunt had turned into a recovery effort.

But he had vowed to continue searching until the boy's body was found.

"I just happen to have a 2-year-old grandson, so for me, this is a very human experience that we are talking about, where we are dealing with this family now who there's no question will lose a 2-year-old child," he said at the earlier press conference.

The boy was playing in about 6 inches to a foot of water when he was attacked. The body was found about 10 to 15 yards off shore in about 6 feet of water, Demings said.

 

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