Nearly a year after tragedy struck at one of its lakeside resorts, Disney World has announced plans to erect a statue in honor of the young boy who was killed by an alligator at their Grand Floridian hotel last summer.
On June 14, 2016, 2-year-old Lane Thomas Graves of Nebraska was playing near the resort’s Seven Seas Lagoon with parents Matt and Melissa Graves, as well as his 4-year-old sister, when he was dragged into the water by an alligator. His father jumped in after Lane in an attempt to pry the boy from the gator’s jaws, though he was ultimately unsuccessful.
Lane’s body was recovered by dive teams the day after the alligator attack. His cause of death was cited as drowning and traumatic injuries.
Now, a year later, Disney has confirmed plans to install a lighthouse sculpture in Lane’s memory somewhere on the park grounds, although the exact location of the sculpture has yet to be revealed.
The sculpture will also serve as a symbol of the Lane Thomas Foundation — a charitable organization established by Lane’s family following their horrific tragedy — which too uses a lighthouse as its logo.
"The foundation is dedicated to supporting families of children needing life-saving organ transplants," Walt Disney World Resort president George A. Kalogridis said in a statement on Tuesday. "To provide continued awareness of the foundation and its mission, we've commissioned an original sculpture of the lighthouse the foundation uses as a symbol of love and hope, to be installed on our property this summer."
Following Lane’s death, Disney World officials were criticized for their failure to provide proper warning signage along the lagoon. According to reports, Disney World had posted “no swimming” signs, but nothing warning of alligators, save for one at a nearby pond at the property.
Disney World later announced plans to install proper warning signs for gators.
Just weeks prior to Lane’s incident, a British family also claims they had were forced to flee from an alligator at that very lagoon. In their case, however, the alligator presumably returned to the water after giving brief chase.
A representative for Disney World was not immediately available for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.