(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said today there’s “no question” the missing 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was dragged by an alligator into a lake Tuesday evening at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Bay Lake, Florida, is dead.
Rescue teams were initially hopeful of finding the boy alive, but officials now say the attack was “not survivable.” A 15-hour search is still underway for the toddler’s body in the artificial Seven Seas lagoon, located on Disney property.
At this point rescue teams want to give the family “closure,” officials said.
“This is a tough situation,” Demings said at a news conference. “We know this is a recovery effort at this point. Disney is doing everything it can to make the family comfortable.”
Walt Disney Resort has temporarily shuttered its resort beach areas and recreational marinas in the wake of the gator attack.
Demings said there are 50 personnel from the sheriff’s office alone working on the recovery effort.
“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,” Jacquee Wahler, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement.
Dozens of rescue crews — including the Florida Fish and Wildlife, Reedy Creek Fire Rescue and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office — are actively searching the lake with sonar equipment. Experienced alligator trappers were also brought in to help with the recovery effort, officials said.
The boy was “playing” in the water when the alligator snatched and dragged him into the lake, officials said. The attack occurred around 9:15 p.m. Eyewitnesses saw the child grabbed by the alligator, Demings said.
“The father entered the water and tried to grab the child from the gator, but was not successful,” Demings said.
The boy’s parents then alerted a nearby lifeguard that an alligator had attacked the boy.
Officials estimate the alligator was between 4 and 7 feet long.
Counselors and victims’ advocates are with the family.
There are no warning signs of gators in the area, but there are notices posted against swimming in the man-made lake.
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