The father of a toddler killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World last June reached into the animal’s mouth in an attempt to free his son’s head from the reptile’s jaw, according to a final report on the death released by Florida’s wildlife agency.
The Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission report said the 2.1m alligator bit 2-year-old Lane Graves’ head as the boy bent down at the edge of a lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and that the boy died from a crushing bite and drowning.
Separately, the Orange County sheriff’s office released its report and ruled the death an accident.
One witness, a 16-year-old tourist, said he was walking with his younger siblings on a beach-area walkway when he heard a scream from the lagoon and saw the alligator taking the boy away.
“The alligator first came in head first toward the beach but turned around once it had the child in its mouth and crawled back into the water headfirst,” Peter Courakos told deputies.
Guests at the resort reported seeing the alligator swimming in the lagoon shortly before the attack.
Tourist Alfred Smith said that he photographed the alligator from his hotel balcony about 90 minutes before the attack.
A short time before the attack, he said, he saw children playing in the ankle-deep water.
He was heading out the door to warn them about the alligator when he heard Lane’s mother screaming, the wildlife agency report said.
Another tourist, Shawna Giacomini, told investigators her two daughters saw the alligator some 2m from shore about 45 minutes before the attack.
The eldest daughter told a Disney employee about it, and that employee went to inform another Disney worker. The Giacominis went to a nearby shop and when they returned the boy had been attacked, according to the wildlife agency.
The wildlife agency’s report said Lane did nothing to provoke the alligator and that the death is classified as a predatory attack.
The alligator may have had a diminished fear of people by being in an area with lots of humans, and wildlife officials are still investigating if alligator feeding took place, according to the wildlife agency.
Lane’s parents have said they do not plan to sue Walt Disney World over the death.
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