A 2-year-old boy who was attacked and dragged into the water by an alligator on the shores of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Tuesday night was still missing early Wednesday morning.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said rescue personnel had been actively looking for the child in the Seven Seas Lagoon for hours in a search and recovery effort but had not found him. They hoped to find him before daylight, he said. A dive team with sonar equipment was on standby — just part of a 50-person rescue team on the scene.
“As a father, as a grandfather, we’re going to hope for the best in these circumstances, but based on my 35 years of law enforcement experience, we know we have some challenges ahead of us,” Demings said.
Demings said the Nebraska family of five was relaxing on the shoreline when the alligator attacked the boy. The father entered the water and tried to grab the child from the gator, but was not successful. He had scratches on his hands after the ordeal.
Parents then alerted a nearby lifeguard that an alligator had attacked the boy. Officials estimated it was between four and seven feet long.
The initial report came into officials at 9:16 p.m. Tuesday, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Rose Silva said.
Deputies were searching the Seven Seas Lagoon and put crime-scene tape around the area to block it off. Multiple emergency vehicles filled the front drive of the Victorian-style hotel and a helicopter hovered overhead. About 50 members of the Reedy Creek Fire Rescue,Orange County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife officials joined forces to search for the child and the alligator.
There are no signs warning of gators in the area, but there are notices posted against swimming in the man-made lake.
The Grand Floridian is an upscale luxury resort owned by Disney. It is one of three hotels on the monorail line, just one stop away from the Magic Kingdom Park.
A Disney official said they were “devastated” by the event.
Hotel guest A.J. Jain and his family were visiting Disney from Georgia and said he and his kids were playing on the beach near the scene of the incident earlier Tuesday.
“I’m just here to say a prayer,” he said. “I can’t imagine what those parents are going through. It’s been one tough week in Orlando.”
When asked about the multiple law enforcement efforts, Demings said, “We are all doing our best to deal with all the situations that we have going on here, but our staff is very resilient. And tonight, they’re very focused on assisting this family.”