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Gator Attacks Third-Grader at Walt Disney World

October 13, 1986

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ An alligator was killed after attacking and slightly injuring an 8-year-old boy at a Walt Disney World campground.

Paul Richard Santamaria of Bristol, N.H., was not seriously injured but was terrified, said his mother, Roberta Santamaria.

Pediatric surgeon Clinton Cavett said the alligator inflicted ″four or five superficial lacerations″ on the boy’s thigh, knee and lower left leg, which did not require surgery.

″It was frightening, but he is in good condition and we’re very fortunate it wasn’t worse,″ Mrs. Santamaria said Sunday night from her son’s hospital room at the Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Paul was playing with his brother, sister and another companion Friday when he wandered 30 yards away to watch ducks waddling out of a small pond where several canals end, his mother said.

″He squatted on the edge of the pond or a canal among the ducks,″ said Lt. Vinard Hitt of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. ″The gator came out of the water at that point and bit him on the left leg.″

The 7-foot, 4-inch long female alligator later was shot and buried by game commission agents, The Orlando Sentinel reported.

Disney spokesman Bob Mervine said that as far as he knows it was the first such attack at the sprawling theme park.

″We have a program for moving (the alligators) out when they are in an area where guests are, but obviously we didn’t move enough,″ he said.

It was the ninth alligator attack in Florida this year, ″the most in a long time,″ Hitt said.