ORLANDO — The body of the two-year-old boy dragged into a lake by an alligator Tuesday night at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been found by the Orange County Dive Team, Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a Wednesday news conference.
The body of the boy, Lane Graves, was found intact about 1:45 p.m., not far from where the boy was grabbed Tuesday night, Demings said.
“Deepest condolences to the Graves family,” The Orange County Sheriff’s office tweeted Wednesday. “Thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.
His body had only a few puncture wounds, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
He likely drowned, Demings said. “Of course, the autopsy has to confirm that, but there is likely no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator,” Demings said.
Demings said the body was found in 6 feet of murky water perhaps 10 to 15 yards from where the boy was attacked.
The boy’s parents, who are from Elkhorn, Nebraska, were identified as Matt and Melissa Graves. Matt Graves is the chief data officer at Omaha Infogroup, a company that provides technology solutions, CNN affiliate KETV reported.
Demings said the Graves were distraught yet relieved that this was not a protracted search.
He said he brought a priest with him when breaking the news to the parents, who are Catholic.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley said the alligator may have already been caught, but that has not yet been confirmed.
“We’re going to make certain that we have the alligator that was involved, and that we remove it from the lake,” he said.
Forensics teams will try to determine whether one of the alligators already taken from the lake is the one that dragged off the boy. If not, the search for alligators in the lake will continue.
The toddler was dragged into Seven Seas Lagoon around 9:30 p.m. The boy was wading in less than a foot of water when it happened; both the mother and the father saw the alligator attack the boy and both went into the water, but were unable to retrieve their son.
“The father actually went into the water to wrestle his son from the grips of the alligator,” Demings said. The father suffered minor scratches on his hand but was unsuccessful in getting his son back. “The sad reality of it is it’s been several hours, and we’re not likely going to recover a live body.”
A frantic overnight search by dive teams and helicopter were unsuccessful, but crews are still trying to find the boy. An alligator trapper has joined the search and they do not plan on stopping until they find the boy.
The family of four — the boy, his parents, and four-year-old sister — were visiting from Nebraska and arrived Sunday. Witnesses say the family was on the beach, and the boy’s sister was in a playpen about 20 to 30 yards from the water. The toddler was nearby, wading in the water.
There are “No Swimming” signs at the lagoon, and no one else was in the water at the time of the attack besides the child, Demings said.
“This is still a search and rescue operation,” said Jeff Williamson, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. “We are very hopeful. We are hoping for the best.”
The lagoon is connected to a series of canals feeding into large bodies of water. Demmings said the alligator is probably between 4 and 7 feet long.
Disney has closed all beaches in its resort area “out of an abundance of caution.”
As of April, only one other major alligator attack has been reported this year, according to Florida Fish & Wildlife. That person survived the attack, but required medical care.
In 2015, there were nine major unprovoked attacks with one fatality.