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Sheriff: Remains of missing toddler found after gator attack at Disney hotel


Wednesday June 15, 2016 – Searchers found the remains of a missing 2-year-old boy, who was dragged away from his family by an alligator near a Disney hotel Tuesday night.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings ID’d the child as Lane Graves, son to Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Neb. He said he believed the boy was drowned. His body was intact.

Divers found the body about 10-15 yards from the shore, in six-foot-deep water.

Matt Graves wrestled with the alligator on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, trying to pry to child from the alligator’s jaw, but came away only with scratches on his hands.

The family of four from Nebraska checked into Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa on Sunday, according to a Disney spokesperson. They also have a four-year-old girl.

In response to reports the family was watching a hotel-sponsored movie near the shore, Disney said it hosts such events but believed the film ended before the attack. The family was sitting near the water, not swimming or wading in it, officials said.

Bill Wilson of New Harmony, Ind., said he watched the commotion unfold from the balcony of his room at the Grand Floridian on the resort’s beach area. He said he didn’t know if a movie was playing beforehand, but heard screams and splashing coming from a darkened edge of the lake.

“I heard somebody screaming and yelling. I thought someone got in a fight,” Wilson said.”I looked over and here comes one of the lifeguards…The mother was there and she was frantic, running up and down looking.”

Demings said search efforts will continue until the child is found. More than 60 responders scoured the area using sonar, overhead in helicopters and in the lake on boats.


Attacks ‘very rare’

There are no signs warning of gators in the area, but there are notices posted against swimming in the lake.

The Grand Floridian is a luxury resort owned by Disney. It is one of three hotels on the monorail line, just one stop away from the Magic Kingdom.

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