Police using boats, divers and a helicopter yesterday recovered the body of a two-year-old boy after an alligator dragged him into a lagoon in front of his family during a vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, CNN reported citing an unnamed source.
The child was snatched as he played at the water’s edge on Tuesday night by an alligator believed to be between 4 and 7 feet (1.2 and 2 meters) long.
Wildlife officials had earlier caught and killed five alligators from the lagoon to examine them for traces of the boy but found no evidence they were involved, said Nick Wiley, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The resort closed its beaches and recreational marinas yesterday as search teams had scoured the Seven Seas Lagoon, a man-made lake reaching 14 feet in depth.
The family, which was vacationing from Nebraska, was not named.
The dozens of sheriff’s deputies and wildlife officials searching for the boy on yesterday, numbering as many as 60, had used sonar technology, helicopters and a team of divers.
Wildlife officials said the attack was a rarity in a state with an alligator population estimated at around one million, but it still left visitors shaken in a city built on tourism.
Floridian Resort and Spa.
The family of four from Nebraska was on vacation at the Seven Seas Lagoon inside a Disney World resort around nightfall on Tuesday when the child waded no more than 2ft into the water before being taken from a small beach.
The boy’s father desperately tried to save him, suffering lacerations to the hand, but was unable to pull the child free. Neither could a lifeguard, who was nearby.
“No swimming” signs had been posted at the beach, but the child was wading, not swimming.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said there have been no other similar alligator attacks on the lake.
The beach area where the animal grabbed the child is part of the luxury Grand Floridian resort, across the lake from Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park.
The man-made lake stretches about 200 acres and reaches a depth of 14ft. The lake feeds into a series of canals that wind through the entire Disney property.
There have been 23 fatalities caused by wild alligators in Florida since 1973, according to data compiled by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Those fatalities were among 383 unprovoked bites not caused by someone handling or intentionally harassing an alligator.
Eight children, aged two to 16, are among the fatalities.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved