Florida authorities believe there is “no question” the two-year-old boy dragged into a man-made lake by an alligator at a Disney resort hotel in Florida is dead, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Wednesday.
Rescuers were still working to recover the body, Demings told reporters.
“We’re 15 hours in,” Demings said. “We know that that happened and it certainly is not survivable at this point for him to have been submerged for this period of time.”
“There’s no question… (the family) will lose a two-year-old child,” he said. The family of five had come to Florida from Nebraska for a vacation.
The alligator snatched the child at the shore of the resort lake Tuesday night and fought off the father’s frantic attempt to wrest the boy from its jaws, officials said.
The mauling was yet more terrible news for a vacation town still reeling from the weekend shooting massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in downtown Orlando — the worst mass shooting in American history. Another 53 were wounded.
“What I can tell you is that Disney has operated here for 45 years and never had this type of thing happen before,” Demings said.
“Remember, it is Florida. And alligators are indigenous to this region of the country. But I want to reiterate that Disney has a wildlife management system that is in place and they have worked diligently to ensure that their guests are not unduly exposed to the wildlife here in this area,” he said.
Nick Wiley, the executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said a dozen officers and experienced alligator trappers were searching the lake, but had found no trace of the missing toddler.
Authorities said earlier four alligators were removed from the lake and euthanized, and Wiley said a fifth had been found.