A Disney official said Wednesday the company plans to “thoroughly review” its alligator warning signage around a resort where a 2-year-old boy was killed by a reptile that snatched him out of shallow water.
The company official spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Disney has yet to prepare a formal statement on the matter.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said his department and the state wildlife agency would look into the issues of warning signs around Seven Seas Lagoon at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, where Disney had posted “no swimming” signs but no warnings about the presence of alligators.
Dive teams on Wednesday afternoon were able to recover the body of the toddler “completely intact.” Demings said that the body was in water roughly six feet deep, 10-15 yards from the edge of the lagoon where the child had been wading Tuesday night.
The sheriff later identified the boy as Lane Graves, who was on vacation with his parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, and his four-year-old sister. They had traveled to Disney World from Elkhorn, Neb. The sheriff said he and a Catholic priest delivered the grim news to the family.
Sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson said at an early Wednesday morning news conference that the boy wasn’t swimming in the water when the alligator snatched him.
The boy's father tried and failed to pry his son from the alligator's jaws, leaving him with cuts and scratches, Demings said. The parents quickly alerted a lifeguard, but the lifeguard was too far away from the scene of the attack to help the father.
Disney is now under fire for not warning visitors about the possibility of alligators in the lagoon that many vacationers visit on a daily basis.
According to WESH 2 News, only one alligator warning sign was spotted on the property and that was at a small pond. The station reported the sign read, "Do not feed or go near the alligators," along with a picture of an alligator and a snake.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Disney removes alligators from the water routinely.
"We definitely will work with everyone involved to try to determine if there's something we can learn, if we can do something better," agency director Nick Wiley said.
Wiley said witnesses estimated that the alligator was 4 feet to 7 feet long. One of the five gators that searchers removed from the water may have been responsible for the attack, he said.
Wildlife officials say the attack was a rarity in a state with a gator population estimated at 1 million. But it still shocked visitors in a city built on tourism.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Lane’s death is the first alligator attack on Disney property since a reptile bit the legs of an 8-year-old boy at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground in 1986. The boy survived that attack.
The beach where the reptile grabbed the child is part of the luxury Grand Floridian resort, across the lake from Magic Kingdom. The lake, which stretches over about 200 acres and reaches a depth of 14 feet, feeds into a series of canals that winds through the entire Disney property.
Though Florida has grown to the nation's third-most populous state, fatal alligator attacks remain rare. Before Lane Graves' death, 23 people had been killed by wild alligators in Florida since 1973, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission statistics.
Disney beaches remained closed through Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.