At around 9 p.m. on Tuesday, a 2-year-old boy was snatched from the beach near a Walt Disney World resort hotel by an alligator. According to witnesses, the boy was playing along the edges of the man-made water feature at the Grand Floridian, wading in about one foot of water, when the alligator attacked, grabbing the boy and dragging him into the water. Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings has now reported that 15 hours after the Disney alligator attack, officials are considering the search a recovery mission vs. a rescue mission.
According to Demings, witnesses saw the boy being dragged into the water, reports. CNN. Bystanders, along with the boy’s parents, tried to wrestle the small child out of the jaws of the alligator following the Disney attack, but were unable to get him away from the alligator’s jaws. Multiple eyewitness accounts indicate that the boy’s father jumped into the man-made water feature at the Disney resort and tried to pry open the jaws of the alligator, but was unsuccessful. The two-year-old’s mother also reportedly jumped in after her son.
Since the horrific alligator attack at the Disney resort hotel, no one has seen any signs of the 2-year-old toddler, despite searching the scene with helicopters and dive teams. Now that more than 15 hours have passed following the alligator attack at the Disney resort, authorities say they believe the child is dead and they are searching for his body.
The alligator attack happened at the Seven Seas Lagoon, near which hotel guests were enjoying a movie night.
According to authorities, the Disney water feature connects to an array of canals and those canals feed into much larger bodies of water. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley confirms this complicated configuration of water bodies and channels has made the search for the 2-year-old all the more complicated and extensive following the nightmarish alligator attack at the Disney resort.
“The sad reality of it is it’s been several hours, and we’re not likely going to recover a live body.”
Disney officials and law enforcement began their search for the boy immediately following the attack. Disney contributed to boats to the search efforts following the alligator attack on their property.
Since the alligator attack, Disney has taken the preventative measure of closing all beaches in its resort area “out of an abundance of caution,” said a Disney representative.
While the efforts of authorities have moved from rescue to recovery, the incident is still being investigated. Law enforcement officials say that they still need to investigate two other families who may have witnessed the unprecedented alligator attack at the Grand Floridian Hotel.
Needless to say, people the world over are absolutely stunned by what happened on Tuesday night, collectively wondering how something like that could have happened, as details of the horrific tragedy continue to trickle out.
Many people took to social media to share their feelings on the tragedy, with some criticizing the parents and others sharing sympathy.
@AP Obviously. I'm also pretty sure there are signs everywhere in FLA warning to not let children or pets near waterways. Common sense too.
— Jerad Winburn (@JeradWinburn) June 15, 2016
@TODAYshow People move to a swamp filled with alligators (Florida) and are surprised when there are alligator attacks.
— PammySchancktastic (@pamanne_schanck) June 15, 2016
— Stephen Perez 40-25 (@_stephenperez_) June 15, 2016
Witnesses and Disney representatives remind the public that the lagoon where the alligator attack took place is clearly labeled with multiple “No Swimming” signs, and that the lagoon is not intended for recreational swimming. According to reports from those who saw the attack, the 2-year-old boy was the only one in the water at the time, and at least one person had some words about the clearly visible “No Swimming” signs.
“‘No Swimming signs are visible from any vantage point.”
Local law enforcement concurs, saying, “This is Florida, and it’s not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water.”
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]