CHICAGO (CBS) — The body of a two-year-old boy was recovered Wednesday from a lagoon at Disney World, after the child was pulled into the water by an alligator.
The body of Lane Graves was recovered around 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. The child’s body was intact, he said.
Demings said that officials and a priest met with Lane’s mother and father, Matt and Melissa Graves, and delivered the news that their son’s body had been recovered.
Demings said the parents were understandably distraught but “also somewhat relieved that the body was intact.”
An autopsy is pending, but authorities said that the child was likely drowned by the alligator.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley says the investigation continues.
“Although we have some sort of closure, our investigation is still ongoing,” said Wiley who added they will make sure that they captured the alligator that attacked the child and remove it from the lake.
The toddler was dragged away into the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday.
“The father entered the water, and he tried to grab the child; was not successful in doing so. At some point, I’m told that the mother also may have entered the water. So the parents diligently tried to get the child,” Demings said at an earlier news conference on Wednesday.
Demings said there were no other recent reports of alligator attacks at the lagoon, and the resort has posted multiple “no swimming” signs in the area.
Police said the boy was playing at the edge of the lagoon, about a foot into the water, when the alligator attacked him. His family was on vacation from Nebraska at the time.
Wildlife officials removed at least five alligators from the lagoon during the search, and at least four have been euthanized. Authorities said none of those alligators showed any signs they had attacked the boy.
Disney World temporarily closed all beaches and recreational marinas in the resort area after the alligator attack “out of an abundance of caution.”
An alligator expert in the Chicago area said such an attack is very rare.
“They are afraid of us,” Jim Nesci told CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross.
He says most alligators shy away from humans and prefer to eat fish. One of his alligators eats just once a week.
However, alligators are most active in the evening and perhaps hungry, confusing the child for a small animal, when this attack occurred.