Disney World Alligator Attack Victim Lane Graves Found Dead After Being Pulled Into Water In Orlando

His lifeless body was found in tact.

16/06/2016 10:27 | Updated 16 June 2016

The body of a two-year-old boy who was snatched by an alligator and dragged underwater off a Walt Disney World beach has been recovered.

Lane Graves was taken from the water's edge at Seven Seas Lagoon at about 9.20pm on Tuesday, despite his father's desperate attempt to save the child.

Divers found the child's lifeless body on Wednesday, 16 hours after the attack, completely intact near to the spot where he was last seen.

Detectives believe that the alligator drowned the boy and left his body.

An autopsy is due to be carried out. 

Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters at a press conference: "Of course the family was distraught, but also I believe somewhat relieved that his body was found intact." 

The alligator was believed to be between 4 and 7 feet (1.2 and 2 metres) long.

The boy's parents were identified as Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska, a suburban area of Omaha, the Associated Press reports.

A family friend released a statement on behalf of the couple thanking well-wishers for their "thoughts and hope-filled prayers."

In a statement from Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis, the company said it was "doing what we can" to help the family.

Disney World closed beaches around Seven Seas Lagoon during the search, and it was not immediately clear when they would reopen.

While "no swimming" signs are posted at the beach where the boy was attacked, no signs warn about alligators.

A company representative said it would "thoroughly review the situation for the future."

Demings said his agency and state wildlife officials would look into the issue of warning signs. 

"There nothing in this case to indicate that there was anything extraordinary" in terms of neglect by the parents, Demings said.

Wildlife officials captured and killed five alligators after the boy was snatched.

They slit the animals open to look for traces of the boy, officials said,

Nick Wiley, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said it was too early to say whether one of those five might be the alligator that took the boy, Reuters reports.

"There is a good chance we already have the alligator because we focused our efforts in that proximity, in that area where this incident occurred," he said, adding that the probe would focus on results of forensic tests and bite marks on the child's body.

Wildlife officials said the attack was a rarity in a state with an alligator population estimated at 1 million.

The area near where an alligator dragged a 2-year-old boy into the water near Disney's upscale Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Lake Buena Vista.

The child had waded no more than one or two feet into the water around nightfall Tuesday when he was taken from a small beach, authorities said.

The boy's father desperately tried to fight off the gator, suffering lacerations on a hand, but he could not save his son. Neither could a nearby lifeguard, officials said.

No other alligator attacks have been reported on the man-made lake, according to Demings.

The sheriff said the company has a wildlife management system and has "worked diligently to ensure their guests are not unduly exposed to wildlife here in this area."

The beach where the reptile grabbed the child is part of the luxury Grand Floridian resort, across the lake from Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park.

Joe Raedle via Getty Images
Search and rescue boats on a beach near the Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian resort hotel where a 2-year-old boy was taken by an alligator.

The lake stretches over about 200 acres and reaches a depth of 14 feet. It feeds into a series of canals that wind through the entire Disney property.

Though Florida has grown to the nation's third-most populous state, fatal alligator attacks remain rare.

Since 1973, 23 people had been killed by wild alligators in Florida, according to data compiled by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The boy makes 24.

Adrees Latif / Reuters
An aerial view of the Grand Floridian after a two-year-old boy was dragged by an alligator into the lagoon at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando.

The grim news was only the latest for a city buffeted by tragedy in the past few days.

On Sunday, a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, leaving 49 people dead in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

On Friday night, Christina Grimmie, 22, a contestant on season six of "The Voice," was fatally shot as she signed autographs after a show in Orlando.

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