Police in Orlando, Florida confirmed that they have found the body of the two-year-old boy who was attacked and dragged underwater at a Disney World resort last night. During a press conference, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said he spoke to the family, telling reporters, "I will tell you that it was a tough message to deliver."
The boy, identified as Lane Graves, was along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian Resort last night around 9 p.m., apparently wading in about a foot of water when an alligator grabbed him and took him. His father, Matt Graves, tried to fight off the alligator but was unsuccessful.
A search, involving dive teams and sonar equipment, was conducted at the 200-acre man-made lake, and Sheriff Demings said that the Orange County dive team found what they believed were the remains at 1:45 p.m. and then at 3:30 p.m. they recovered Lane's body intact. Demings said the search had its challenges—"the water is kind of murky"—and the body was found about 10-15 yards away from where Lane was last seen, with a water depth of around six feet.
The boy's body was sent to the medical examiner's for an autopsy. While the cause of death has yet to be determined, the sheriff said, "There's no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator."
Nick Wiley, the executive director of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, said that they were working to find the alligator that attacked the child. "There's a good chance we have the alligator," he said, referring to the five alligator found since the boy went missing, but added, "If we can't get a match, we'll continue to get it." He explained that they'll use forensics, like comparing bite marks of the alligators to what might be found on the boy.
Demings and Wiley both stressed that Disney was very "cooperative" during the investigation. Wiley also mentioned that Disney had its own wildlife management program, where its staff will find alligators and work with the FWC to have them removed; Wiley did not have specific numbers on how many alligator incidents there were.
Answering questions about the "No Swimming" signs posted around the lagoon, Demings did not specifically say that Disney could have been more explicit forbidding any activity near the water—photographs do not show any fencing at the shore—but did indicate there was an opportunity to learn from the tragedy.
He also said the Graves family, who are visiting from Elkhorn, Nebraska, appreciated all the prayers people have been sending them. "Of course, the family was distraught but [they were] somewhat relieved that we were able to find his body intact," Demings said, adding that the family would now be able to move forward with a burial.
All Disney property beaches around the Seven Seas Lagoon have been closed.