(ORLANDO, Fla.) — A search is underway for a 2-year-old boy who was dragged by an alligator into the water Tuesday evening at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident happened around 9 p.m. and, despite the hours-long search for the boy, officials remain optimistic.
“We are very hopeful and hoping for the best,” Jeff Williamson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Orange County Sheriff’s Jerry Demings said rescue crews — including the Florida Fish and Wildlife, Reedy Creek Fire Rescue and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office – were actively looking for the child at the Seven Seas Lagoon early Wednesday morning in a search-and-recovery effort but had not found him.
The boy was with his family visiting from Nebraska relaxing at the shoreline when the alligator attacked the boy.
“The father entered the water and tried to grab the child from the gator, but was not successful,” Demings said.
Parents then alerted a nearby lifeguard that an alligator had attacked the boy.
Officials said they estimate it between 4 and 7 feet long.
Counselors and victims’ advocates are with the family.
Dozens of officers, in addition to rescue teams consisting of choppers and maritime units used SONAR equipment and intense spotlights as a part of the search Tuesday night and into the morning.
There are no signs warning of gators in the area, but there are notices posted against swimming in the man-made lake.
“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.
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