|Photo by Freeimages.com/Michael Sult|
by David Lawler, The Daily Telegraph, June 15, 2016
The boy’s father wrestled with the 5-7 foot alligator in a desperate attempt to save his son after the attack on Tuesday night, but both alligator and boy disappeared into the Seven Seas Lagoon. His mother also darted into the water in an unsuccessful rescue attempt. The boy’s four-year-old sister was inside a play pen on the beach.
Search and recovery teams used sonar to try and locate the boy, and traps to capture four other alligators nearby, which were subsequently euthanised.
The search is now focusing on recovery rather than rescue.
The boy was playing in about one foot of water in the lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort.
Sheriff Jerry Demmings of the Orange County Police said on Wednesday afternoon that there was "no question" the boy had been killed. The operation had transitioned from search and rescue to search and recovery, he told reporters.
The large red and white resort sprawls around a half-moon shaped beach, where the boy was playing, watched by his parents. Across the bay and above the tree line sits Cinderella’s Castle, a familiar site to anyone who has visited the theme park or seen a Disney film.
The lagoon is used for boating and other activities, but signs advise against swimming. Disney World said on Wednesday it was shutting down all beach areas "in an abundance of caution".
The Trent family, visiting from North Carolina, said they had been to Disney World several times but that after the murder of pop star Christina Grimmie on Friday night, the massacre at Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning followed by the tragedy on Tuesday night, there was an ominous feeling in the tourist haven of Orlando.
“It’s a little tense this week, but we’re still trying to make the best of it,” Stephen Trent said. “The crowds have been way less than we’ve ever experienced. Most times you come down here and it’s hard to push a stroller through but now it seems like you can about go wherever you want to go.”
Inside the stroller was Stephen’s son Blake, who will soon turn two. Blake’s grandmother Lisa said the alligator attack had struck their family particularly hard.
“We’re all thinking about that because we’ve got one that size,” she said. “It’s terrible.”
Stephen said they had seen up to three alligators at one time in past visits: “I mean, they’re here, this is their habitat. It’s something to expect.”
Disney officials were in damage limitation mode on Wednesday, covering up park signs within view of television cameras and meeting to discuss how to handle the apparent public relations nightmare as search helicopters buzzed overhead.
Jacquee Wahler, a vice-president at the theme park, released a statement saying everyone at the park was “devastated”.
“Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement,” she said.
READ MORE ABOUT:
This article was written by David Lawler from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.