The toddler whose body was found 'intact' 17 hours after alligator snatched him at Disney resort

By Katie Mettler, Elahe Izadi

This is the 2-year-old boy whose body was recovered from a lagoon at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando after he was snatched by an alligator.

Lane Graves, the son of Matthew, 42, and Melissa Graves, 38, of Elkhorn, Nebraska, was identified for the first time by Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

Demings confirmed that dive teams had found an "intact" body in the Seven Seas Lagoon. He said divers found the body in the man-made lake at around 1.45pm local time and it was pulled out of the lagoon around 3.30pm.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers search for the body of the toddler. Photo / AP
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers search for the body of the toddler. Photo / AP

Although the body has not been officially identified, Demings says there is no reason not to believe that it is not Lane.

The Graves family were on the third day of their holiday in Orlando when tragedy struck on Tuesday night. Lane had been wading in a ''no swimming'' area at the upscale Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at around 9.20pm when he was attacked and dragged underwater by the 'gator.

His father ran out into the water and tried to wrestle him from the reptile's clutches to no avail.

During the search, wildlife officials caught and killed five alligators in the lake and they say they will now use forensics to determine whether they have already euthanised the 'gator responsible for the attack. If not, officials promised to continue searching the lake for the creature.

Sheriff Demings said the Graves appreciate the prayers that have come from well-wishers. The family are hoping to move forward with a proper burial, Demings added.

The beach area where the boy was snatched.
The beach area where the boy was snatched.

Matthew Graves is the chief data officer at tech company Infogroup, where he has worked since 2008, according to his LinkedIn page. He graduated with a degree in advertising from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has an MBA from Regis University.

He has also served as a board member for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber issued a statement expressing condolences on Wednesday. CEO and president David Brown said: 'The loss of a child is a special kind of tragedy, particularly hard to comprehend.

"Our thoughts and our prayers are with the Graves family during this time of unthinkable sadness. Matt has served on our Chamber Board since 2013. We stand ready to assist him, his wife and family as they grieve the loss of Lane."

The discovery of the boy's body comes after a Disney lifeguard revealed to the Daily Mail Online that the boy was 3m from the shore when he was snatched. It was previously reported that the boy was only in ankle-deep to 30cm of water.

Nick Wiley, executive director of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, left, and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings answer questions from reporters. Photo / AP
Nick Wiley, executive director of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, left, and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings answer questions from reporters. Photo / AP

The employee told the Daily Mail Online even at 3m, the water is "not too deep". "We have lifeguards on duty at the play area but at the beach we don't have any lifeguards because you're not supposed to be in the water," they said.

The Seven Seas Lagoon behind the upscale hotel is off limits to guests, and "no swimming'' signs are posted nearby - but none of them warned about possible alligators in the water, like the signs posted at the Polynesian Village hotel next door.

The Disney worker said that the father was the first at the scene and then the lifeguards rushed in. But nobody was able to save the child from the alligator, which was up to 2m long. The father sustained lacerations to his arm trying to pull his son from the 'gator.

- Daily Mail

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