Family of Toddler Killed by Alligator Speaks Out: ‘Words Cannot Describe the Shock and Grief’

The family of 2-year-old Lane Graves, who was killed by an alligator at a Disney World resort in Florida on Tuesday, June 14, has spoken out about the tragic incident. 

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Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska, said they were “devastated” by their son’s death. “Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son. We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time. To all of the local authorities and staff who worked tirelessly these past 24 hours, we express our deepest gratitude,” the Graves family said in a statement on Thursday, June 16, according to ABC News.

As Us Weekly previously reported, the family of four was enjoying an outdoor movie night during their vacation at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa near Orlando on Tuesday. The toddler was wading in shallow water in the Seven Seas Lagoon when he was dragged away by an alligator around 9:16 p.m. Both parents jumped into the water and fought to save their son, but he was pulled underwater. 

Lane Graves
The body of Lane Graves, a 2-year-old boy taken by an alligator at Disney World resort, was found by divers in a lagoon on June 15, 2016. Orange County Sheriff's Department

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After an extensive search by law enforcement and private Disney vessels, a dive team located the child’s body in the “immediate area of where he was last seen” around 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15, Orange County sheriff Jerry Demings said during a press conference that day. He added that the body was fully intact and said, “There’s no question in my mind the child was drowned by the alligator.”

Demings told the Associated Press that it’s unlikely any charges will be filed against the parents. “There’s nothing in this case to indicate that there was anything extraordinary” in terms of neglect, he said.

In the aftermath, experts are working to determine which alligator caused the fatal attack. Several gators have already been removed from the lake and will be investigated. Disney will be re-evaluating its signage near its beach areas. While the Seven Seas Lagoon did have “No Swimming” signs, there was no warning of possible danger from wildlife. 

Grand Floridian
A boat belonging to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office searches the Seven Seas Lagoon outside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa near Orlando on June 15, 2016. GREGG NEWTON/AFP/Getty Images

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According to the Orlando Sentinel, a Disney spokesperson issued a statement on Thursday, June 16, saying, “We are conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols. This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings.” A source told the newspaper that Disney World plans to put up signs warning guests of alligators.

Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger personally offered condolences to the Graves family. “As a parent and a grandparent, my heart goes out to the Graves family during this time of devastating loss. My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I know everyone at Disney joins me in offering our deepest sympathies,” Iger said in a statement on Wednesday, June 15. 

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