Friday 24 November 2017

Panic at Disney World after alligator kills boy in lagoon

A helicopter searches for a young boy yesterday, after he was dragged into the water by an alligator in Florida. Photo: AP
A helicopter searches for a young boy yesterday, after he was dragged into the water by an alligator in Florida. Photo: AP

David Lawler

The body of a two-year-old boy snatched by an alligator at a Walt Disney World resort in Florida has been found 'intact' by searchers.

Police named the boy as Lane Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska, who was on holiday with his parents and his sibling at the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian resort.

Lane was attacked on Tuesday night as he waded in shallow water at the edge of the man-made lagoon.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said a dive team found the body of the two-year-old at about 3.30pm local time. He said the body was found "completely intact," just 10 to 15 yards from where he was attacked, in about six feet of water.

They had used sonar to find the body in murky water.

His parents, Matt and Melissa Graves were on holiday with their two children when the attack happened.

Around nightfall on Tuesday, Lane waded no more than 2ft into the water before being snatched by the alligator from a small beach.

Mr Graves desperately tried to save him, suffering lacerations to the hand, but was unable to pull him free. Neither could a lifeguard, who was nearby.

"No swimming" signs had been posted at the beach, but Lane was wading, not swimming.

Mr Demings cast doubt on the possibility that the parents will face any charges over the incident.

He said there was nothing to suggest "anything extraordinary" in terms of how the parents were caring for the boy.

A 50-strong search team of trappers and divers had spent the day searching Disney's network of man-made canals, ponds and lakes. At least five other alligators were caught and cut open before they found the boy's body.

A Disney representative said the entertainment giant had closed the beaches "out of an abundance of caution".

Wildlife officials said the attack was a rarity in a state with an alligator population estimated at around one million, but it still left visitors shaken in a city built on tourism.

The large red and white Disney resort sprawls around a half-moon-shaped beach, where the boy was playing, watched by his parents.

Across the bay sits Cinderella's Castle, a familiar sight at the start of Disney films. The lagoon is used for boating and other activities, but signs advise against swimming.

Million of tourists visited Orlando last year, many of them drawn by Disney World or other attractions.

One family said yesterday that they narrowly escaped an alligator attack on a neighbouring stretch of beach just a few weeks ago. Carl and Karen Davies said that they had sprinted across the beach with their 10-year-old son and daughter after a "huge" alligator emerged out of the lagoon.

The Trent family, visiting from North Carolina, said they had been to Disney World several times, but that after the murder of pop star Christina Grimmie on Friday night, the massacre at Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning, followed by the tragedy on Tuesday night, there was an ominous feeling in Orlando.

"It's a little tense this week, but we're still trying to make the best of it," Stephen Trent said. "The crowds have been way less than we've ever experienced."

Irish Independent

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