Tuesday 27 September 2016

Four alligators euthanised in search for missing boy who was snatched near Disney resort despite desperate rescue attempts

Search under way at Grand Floridian Hotel in Orlando after father battled with animal to try and rescue his son

Published 15/06/2016 | 07:03

Police search for the child
Police search for the child
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings
Early morning view of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa located in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, Florida on September 28, 2003, near where an alligator dragged a small boy into a lagoon. File picture

Four alligators have been euthanised during the search for a missing child, dragged into a lagoon by one of the creatures at a Disney resort, investigators have said.

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Their bodies were examined but there was no evidence of an attack on the two-year-old boy, who was was snatched as he paddled in view of his family on the shore of the Seven Seas lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando, Florida.

Early morning view of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa located in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, Florida on September 28, 2003, near where an alligator dragged a small boy into a lagoon. File picture
Early morning view of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa located in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, Florida on September 28, 2003, near where an alligator dragged a small boy into a lagoon. File picture

A search for the child is continuing but has so far been unsuccessful.

The boy was attacked by the reptile about 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday at the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Lake Buena Vista near Orlando, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

The boy was playing in the water while his family, vacationing from Nebraska, relaxed on the shore nearby, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told a news conference.

"The father entered the water and tried to grab the child and was not successful," Demings said.

The mother also tried to rescue the boy and the father suffered hand injuries, he added. The family has not been named.

The search continued “to no avail” into Wednesday morning as wildlife officials announced four alligators had been euthanized overnight to check for any signs of the toddler.

"As a father, as a grandfather we are going to hope for the best in these circumstances but, based on my 35 years of law enforcement experience, we know we have some challenges ahead of us," Demings told reporters.

He said the animal was thought to be between 4 and 7 feet (1.2 and 2 meters) long.

Wildlife and marine officials were drafted into the search, which ran through the night.

"We're putting every effort into locating the child and trapping this alligator," Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer Chad Weber told reporters.

A spokeswoman for Walt Disney World Resort said everyone there was devastated by the tragic accident. "Our thoughts are with the family and we are helping the family," she said.

On May 28, a 3-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, causing zookeepers to kill a gorilla to protect the child.

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