4th UPDATE, 5:15 PM: Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger and Walt Disney World president George Kalogridis have issued statements following the tragic death of a 2-year-old boy by an alligator at the Orlando resort.
From Iger: “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.”
“There are no words to convey the profound sorrow we feel for the family and for their unimaginable loss,” said Kalogridis. “We are devastated and heartbroken by this tragic accident and are doing what we can to help the family during this difficult time. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we offer our deepest sympathies.”
3RD UPDATE, 1:27 PM: Search crews have found the body of a toddler who was attacked and dragged away by an alligator in a lagoon outside a Disney hotel in Orlando last night, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings just announced at a news conference. Demings said sheriff’s dive teams found what was believed to the boy’s remains at about 1:45 PM ET. The body, which was found intact near where he was dragged into the water, was sent to the coroner for positive identification.
The parents have been identified as Matt and Melissa Graves, from Elk Horn, NE. The boy was identified as Lane Graves.
Up to 50 rescue workers had been searching for the 2-year-old since he was snatched and pulled underwater last night about 9:30 PM ET. Demings said the investigation is ongoing, adding that there is no question in his mind that the child was drowned by the alligator.
2ND UPDATE, 9:45 AM: The toddler who was attacked and dragged away by an alligator outside a Disney hotel in Orlando last night is presumed dead, according to local law enforcement. “There’s no question they will lose a 2-year-old child,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Wednesday to assembled media about the incident outside Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa late Tuesday. “It has been 15 hours since, we are working on recovering the body of the child at this point. The ultimate goal is to bring closure to the family.”
In what is being called a recovery operation, the Sheriff’s office says up to 50 rescue workers were involved in the search, which is ongoing. Noting that, “this is very concerning to Disney,” Demings said his teams will keep searching until they find the child’s body.
UPDATE, 6:30 AM: Search crews continue to comb a lagoon at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando, more than 12 hours after a 2-year-old boy was snatched by an alligator, but so far there is no sign of the child. “We are very hopeful and hoping for the best,” Jeff Williamson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference this morning. Officials are terming it a search-and-recovery effort.
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY, 9:27 PM: A 2-year-old boy was dragged into a lagoon by an alligator on the grounds of Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando, Florida. The accident occurred at the Resort’s Seven Seas Lagoon water park at around 9:30 pm ET. A desperate search for the child is underway and will continue throughout the night.
“We are hoping for the best,” Orange Country Fla. Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a press conference held at around 1 AM ET. It was carried live by CNN, which broke into its regular programming after 12:30 AM ET to cover the incident.
Demings said that the missing boy was vacationing with his family — mother, father and two siblings — visiting from Nebraska. The boy was playing on the shoreline by the shallow part of the lagoon when the alligator emerged from the water and grabbed the child. The boy’s father tried unsuccessfully to fight the alligator as it dragged the boy into the lagoon.
“Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family, we are helping with the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement,” a spokeswoman for Disney World said at the press conference.
A dive team is on standby at the resort.
Demings, a 35-year veteran of the department, acknowledged the challenges ahead in locating the two-year-old. “The sad reality of it is it’s been several hours and we’re not likely going to recover a live body,” he said. Demings said he was unaware of any similar incidents at the resort in the past.
The news comes as Orlando reels from the worst mass shooting in U.S. history Sunday, and the murder of The Voice contestant Christina Grimmie Friday night.