Florida Sheriff: Toddler's remains found near where gator attacked


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (CNN& AP) - Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says a dive team found the remains of 2-year-old Lane Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday - that's about 16 hours after an alligator snatched the toddler at Walt Disney World.

Demings said the body was found "completely intact," just 10 to 15 yards from where the boy was attacked, in about 6 feet of water.

He said they had to use sonar to find the body in the murky water.

The sheriff declined to respond to repeated questions about whether Disney World should clarify its warning signs at the manmade lake. The beachside warnings say "no swimming," but don't mention the threat of alligators or say even wading is risky.

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(AP) Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says searchers have recovered the body of a 2-year-old Nebraska boy snatched by an alligator at Walt Disney World.

The boy was attacked Tuesday night as he waded in shallow water at the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian resort.

Demings identified the boy as Lane Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska.

The search team grew to 50 people Wednesday as trappers and divers searched Disney's network of man-made canals, ponds and lakes. At least five other alligators were caught and cut open before they found the killer.

Previous story:

(CNN) The 2-year-old boy who witnesses said was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney World hotel has been found dead, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Wednesday.

Previous story:

(AP) Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says Walt Disney World has been providing "amazing" support as they search for the body of a 2-year-old boy who was snatched by an alligator.

Experienced alligator trappers, sheriff's department divers and sonar equipment are being used to search a network of man-made canals, ponds and lakes where the gator may have taken the boy.

The sheriff says that after 15 years of searching, the attack is "certainly not survivable at this point."

Demings says Disney has never had anything like this happen in 45 years of operations. He says the theme parks' wildlife management system works diligently to keep guests safe from dangerous Florida creatures, removing or killing any alligators they find.

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(AP) Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says some 50 people are now "working on recovering the body" of a 2-year-old boy snatched by an alligator at Walt Disney World.

He says the boy's family "will no question lose a 2-year-old child."

Some 50 people are now using sonar equipment as they search a system of lakes and ponds linked by canals to the Seven Seas Lagoon where the boy was attacked while wading in about a foot of water at 9 p.m. Tuesday night.

Demings says they are trying to "bring some closure to this family."

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(AP) Disney is closing all beach areas in its Lake Buena Vista resorts after an alligator dragged away a 2-year-old boy at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

The company announced Wednesday that it's closing the beaches in "an abundance of caution."

Officials say the little boy was wading at the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon around nightfall Tuesday when an alligator estimated to be between 4 feet and 7 feet long dragged him under.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the family of five from Nebraska arrived on Sunday in Orlando, where only hours earlier, a gunman's attack on a gay nightclub left 49 people dead. Two days before that, 22-year-old Christina Grimmie, a contestant on season six of "The Voice," was killed in Orlando while signing autographs after a show.

Previous story:

(AP) The Nebraska governor says his heart goes out to the family of a 2-year-old boy who was snatched by an alligator while on vacation at a Disney resort in the Orlando, Florida, area.

The Nebraska family's name has not been released, and Gov. Pete Ricketts' office said in a statement Wednesday that all they know was what they have seen in media reports.

The Orange County sheriff says the family of five from Nebraska was wading in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World on Tuesday evening when an alligator dragged the child into the water. Authorities are still searching for the child.

Ricketts says "no family should ever have to experience such horror" and that he and his wife are praying for them.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (CNN) - Authorities in Orlando, Florida, are still searching for a 2-year-old boy who was dragged into the water by an alligator near Disney's upscale Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and are hoping for the best.

Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jeff Williamson said at a Wednesday morning news conference that it's still being considered a search and rescue operation and additional deputies will be joining the search.

The boy was with his family on vacation from Nebraska. The family of five was wading in the water of the Seven Seas Lagoon on Tuesday night when the alligator came out of the water and attacked.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says the boy's father tried to rescue him but was not able to.


1:30 a.m.

Authorities in Orlando are searching for a 2-year-old boy who was dragged into the water by an alligator near Disney's upscale Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

Speaking at a news conference early Wednesday, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says the family of five from Nebraska was on vacation and wading in a lake Tuesday evening when the attack happened. Demings says the father tried to rescue the child but was unsuccessful.

Demings says more than 50 law enforcement personnel are searching the Seven Seas Lagoon for the boy and will keep looking.

Demings says there have been no other recent reports of similar alligator attacks at the lake.

Previous story:

An alligator snatched a 2-year-old boy Tuesday night in a lagoon at a Disney hotel near Orlando as his father desperately tried to save him.

A frantic overnight search to find the boy was unsuccessful, authorities said, but efforts are continuing Wednesday morning.

"This is still a search and rescue operation," said Jeff Williamson, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office. "We are very hopeful. We are hoping for the best."

The child was "wading just in the water along the lake's edge at the time that the alligator attacked," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

Parents rush into water to save son

A family of four -- the boy, his parents and his 4-year-old sister -- was on vacation from Nebraska, Demings said. They arrived Sunday.

The parents watched as the alligator attacked the toddler at the Seven Seas Lagoon.

"The father actually went into the water to wrestle his son from the grips of the alligator," he said. The father suffered minor scratches on his hand but was unsuccessful in getting his son back.

The mother also went into the water, trying to find her child, he said.

"The sad reality of it is it's been several hours, and we're not likely going to recover a live body," Demings said.

He said there is no record of similar incidents in this particular area.

"Everyone here at the Walt Disney Resort is devastated by this tragic accident," said Jacquee Wahler, a vice president at Walt Disney World Resort.

"Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement."

Demings said no reports of nuisance alligators have come in the region recently. The alligator is between 4 and 7 feet long, Demings said, adding he's unsure of its exact size.

Jeff Corwin, a noted national animal expert, said he was surprised this happened so close to a highly regulated area but noted there are millions of alligators in Florida. Disney has many thousand acres. An alligator could make its way, undetected through some swamp and marsh into a lagoon near where people congregate.

A gator that size would be unlikely to attack an adult, he said, but a child would be more vulnerable.

When a gator bites down, his jaws snap closed, with thousands of pounds of force, Corwin said. "I can't imagine the terror on these people's minds trying to manage this," he said.

Baby pen was near water

The Reedy Creek emergency services call center first received a report about the attack at 9:16 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The attack occurred on a sandy waterfront area outside the hotel near the Seven Seas Lagoon on the property.

A handful of people witnessed the attack and supplied police with information.

Witnesses said the family was on the beach, and the boy's sister was in a playpen about 20 to 30 yards from the water, according to Demings. The toddler was nearby, wading in the water.

There are "No Swimming" signs at the lagoon, and no one else was in the water at the time of the attack besides the child, Demings said.

This body of water is not for recreational swimming.

"This is Florida, and it's not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water," he said.

Declan Salcido, who's on vacation with relatives from San Jose, California, was coming back from Disney's Animal Kingdom when the first ambulance arrived.

He said multiple "No Swimming" signs near the lagoon are visible "from any vantage point."

The search

Authorities do not plan to stop the search until the boy is found or recovered.

Helicopters, sonar, marine units and an alligator trapper are being used in the rescue effort. Divers are on standby.

"We're not leaving until we recover the child," Demings said.

At least 10 emergency vehicles were on the scene, and the beach was cordoned off.

Salcido said he saw seven or eight boats searching the waters, including two Disney security boats and pontoons owned by the company to take guests out on the water for fireworks.

When he first arrived, there was only one boat near the shore. But more boats rapidly came to assist and moved much farther away, searching a "wider pattern."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is conducting a parallel investigation and participating in the search. It has deployed an alligator trapper, officer Chad Weber said.

"We're putting every effort into locating the child and trapping this alligator," he said. "We'll be here with them until there's a resolution."

A helicopter with a search light scoured the lagoon as a handful of Disney employees ushered people away from the sidewalks overlooking the beach.

The week

It has been a tragic week for the Orlando area. A gunman massacred 49 people early Sunday at an Orlando gay club in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

A day before the rampage, a man shot singer Christina Grimmie as she was signing autographs following a concert.

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