UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.- Orange County Sheriff Demings said in a press conference Wednesday that since it has been 15 hours since a two-year-old child was snatched by an alligator in Florida, officials are now working on recovering the child’s body rather than a rescue operation.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office searched through the night Tuesday and into Wednesday morning for a two-year-old boy they say was snatched from a waterfront area near the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Walt Disney World.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said that the initial 9-1-1 call about the child being attacked by the alligator came in at approximately 9:16 p.m. Demings said there are at least 50 law enforcement officers looking for the child.
Demings said in a press conference early Wednesday that they will continue their search until the child and the alligator are recovered. Marine units, a dive team, sonar equipment and other means are being utilized to recover the child.
“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 that we have some challenges ahead of us at this time,” he said.
The sheriff said the child was at the resort vacationing with his family from Nebraska. His parents tried to save him prior to him being dragged into the water by the alligator.
“The sad reality of it is it’s been several hours and we’re not likely going to recover a live body,” Demings said. “We’re not leaving until we recover the child.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer Chad Weber said his department is pulling officers from other areas in an effort to recover the child and trap the alligator.
Walt Disney World Resorts vice president Jacquee Waller said, “Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement.”
There is no record of this type of incident happening before at this location, Demings told reporters at the press conference.
As of 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, four alligators had been retrieved from the lake, euthanized and examined for possible involvement in the attack. No evidence has been found that any of the four were the alligator involved, thus far.
More information will be reported as it becomes available.