WALT DISNEY WORLD, Fla. – The search for a boy who deputies say was dragged by an alligator into the water at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Walt Disney World continues on Wednesday morning.
The incident happened in a sandy waterfront area outside of the hotel near the Seven Seas Lagoon on hotel property around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The 2-year-old boy was on vacation with his family from Nebraska and arrived at the resort on Sunday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
Witnesses said the family was on the beach and the boy’s 4-year-old sister was in a play pen about 20 to 30 yards from the water on the sand, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. The toddler was wading in the water nearby.
“The father actually went into the water to wrestle his son from the grips of the alligator,” Demings said.
The father suffered minor scratches on his hand, but was unsuccessful in getting his son back. Demings said the mother also went into the water, trying to find her child.
Jeff Williamson with Orange County Sheriff’s Office said at the Wednesday morning news conference that the search for the boy is still a search and recovery mission and that they are holding out for the best outcome.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they have taken four alligators out of the lake to euthanize and analyze them, but none were believed to be the gator involved in the attack.
The alligators is described as being anywhere between 4 to 7 feet in length.
“We have not had any recent reports or complaints of nuisance gators in the area,” Demings said.
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 “likely for that very reason,” the reason being alligators.
“This is Florida and it’s not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water,” Demings 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, adding, “We’re not leaving until we recover the child.”
“Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement,” said Jacquee Wahler, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is working with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on the investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” FWC officer Chad Weber said.
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