Disney World Florida has barred public access to its beach resorts after a two-year-old boy was found dead in its premises, according to a report on CNN.
An unidentified Disney official told CNN on Thursday, June 16 (Philippine time), that the amusement park took this measure “out of an abundance of caution”, since the boy had been drowned by an alligator in its Seven Seas Lagoon.
The amusement park has not clarified until when the closure would last but its executives have reached out to offer condolences to the boy’s family.
“Everyone here at the Walt Disney Resort is devastated by this tragic accident,” said Jacquee Wahler, a vice president at Walt Disney World Resort. “Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement.”
The boy, who was identified as Lane Graves, was found near the spot where he was grabbed by the alligator. He had only a few puncture wounds, according to the report.
Sherriff Jerry Demings said that the body was found in 6 feet of murky water perhaps 10 to 15 yards from where he was attacked. Demings believed that the alligator drowned the boy, it said.
“Of course, the autopsy has to confirm that, but there is likely no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator,” Demings said in the report.
The boy was with his parents, Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn Nebraska, during an outdoor movie night at the Grand Floridian resort at around 9:00 p.m. He waded into about a foot of water in a lagoon when the alligator grabbed him. Witnesses including the boy’s mother jumped into the lake. The boy’s father tried to pry open the alligator’s mouth.
The boy had been dragged underwater in the Seven Seas Lagoon. It is connected to a series of canals that feed into large bodies of water, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley.
At 9:16 p.m., the Reedy Creek emergency services call center was alerted on the attack. After this, authorities and Disney security officers in boats began to search for the boy.
Wiley says that authorities are now removing the reptiles from the lake, but they have not yet determined if they have captured the alligator involved in the boy’s death.
“We’re going to make certain that we have the alligator that was involved, and that we remove it from the lake,” he said.
The search for the rogue alligator would continue if found that it was not among those captured by Florida authorities.
There are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in Florida. The state’s wildlife conservation commission says that at least 23 people have been killed by the reptiles since 1973, the report said.
Thumbnail image from disneyparks.disney.go.com