Walt Disney CEO responds to gator attack tragedy
Update 8:19 pm:Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger released a statement Wednesday in response to the news of the death of Lane Graves, who was killed in an alligator attack at Disney World’s Seven Seas Lagoon,according to The Wrap.
“As a parent and a grandparent, my heart goes out to the Graves family during this time of devastating loss. My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I know everyone at Disney joins me in offering our deepest sympathies,” he said.
The boy is now identified as Lane Graves, the 2-year-old son of Matt and Melissa Graves of Elk Horn, Nebraska. Authorities continue to investigate with the goal of being sure they’ve caught the alligator responsible. They will rely on forensics to determine if it was one of the five already caught, killed and examined or whether the reptile that dragged the boy under as he was merely ankle deep in water s still out there.
FWC’s Nick Wiley said, “We’re going to make certain we have the alligator involved.”
When asked whether the warning signs in the area were adequate considering they say no swimming allowed but don’t mention the potential for alligators in the area, Jennings said, “Disney will look at all those particular issues. That’s within Disney’s purview.”
In the four press conferences held since the boy was attacked Tuesday night, no one from Disney has stepped forward to speak or take questions.
An unconfirmed story from a UK family:The Mirror reports “Brit family ’chased by alligator”at Disney resort weeks before toddler attack. The Davies, who are from Liverpool, tell the paper they were at the Polynesian Village Resort along the shores of the same lake and awaiting the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks display when an alligator “lurched” out of the lagoon.
Update 3:00 p.m Search detailsSheriff Jerry Demings told a gathering of reporters, “It is somewhat of a complicated operation we have going. It’s a man-made body of water and has certain systems built in to the waterway. My divers have been in the water today and at an appropriate time they may be back in the water. We have marine units out on the lake. They’re using sonar equipment as well.” He also noted that the resort has “never had this type of thing happen before” in its 45 years.
Demings added: “It is Florida and alligators are indigenous to this region of the country, but I want to reiterate that they have a wildlife management system that is in place. they have worked diligently” to keep visitors from being “unduly exposed.”
Disney’s alligator managementWiley, of the FWC, said, “Disney has been very proactive with regard to dealing with alligators… (Disney has) full time staff observing these waters. They have essentially an open system permit where anytime they see an alligator or a complaint is called, it (the alligator) can be taken out. These alligator are not relocated, they have to be euthanize because when they become a problem if you move them somewhere you’re just moving a problem.”
He said preventing the alligators from coming on to property is futile.
Update 2:52 p.m. Security tightenedOnly guests with confirmed reservations are being allowed on site at the Grand Floridian Resort. On property, a pool close to the beach where the attack happened is closed. Staff members are patrolling the property as law enforcement scans the vast waters of the lake by boat and helicopter.
Update 2:30 p.m. What the signs sayThe shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, where a 2-year-old child and his family were when the alligator attacked, do have signs posted that warn no swimming is allowed. Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that they don’t have specifics regarding how big they are and where they are placed.
Authorities were first alerted to the attack at 9:16 p.m., Orange County Sheriff’s officials reported. The boy’s father fought to retrieve his son without success. A lifeguard also rushed to the scene.
Update 1:20 p.m. Don’t feed the gatorsWhile wildlife authorities praised Disney’s efforts to manage the alligator population that is bound to invade, one Disney employee toldThe Orlando Sentinel it’s the human visitorsthat heighten the problems. In an email, the unnamed employee said, “There is such a problem on property with guests feeding the alligators thining it’s cool.” He said there are two alligators people feed regularly from the balconies at the Buena Vista Palace.
Update 12:15 p.m. Fifth alligator caught; still no childFWC officials say that a fifth alligator was captured and killed but it also does not look to be the 2-year-old’s killer.More alligator trappers have been called in as more than 60 people search the property to find the alligator and the boy’s body.
An FWC said Disney actively patrols its water ways and holds an open permit catch and kill the alligators that come on property. “Disney does everything by the book and they have an amazing system. “
Alligator attacks:Since 1948,alligators have attacked and killed23 people in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The agency counts a 383 attacks from minor to fatal in those 68 years.
Update 11:06 a.m.:Sheriff’s official says, “At this point, this is certainly a recovery effort to make sure the family has some closure once we can recover the body of the child. About 60 people have been deployed to search the lake.
The Orange County Sheriffs Office is expected to hold a briefing at noon with updates regarding the search for the boy and the alligator that snatched him last night as he splashed his feet at the water’s edge.
Update 10 a.m. : Disney has closed all of its resort are beaches“out of an abundance of caution” after Tuesday night’s attack,CNN is reporting.
Alligators do not appear to be strangers to the tourist destination. In August of 2012, one visitor posted avideo to YouTube of one spotted in Disney Lagoonfrom one of the hotel rooms.
The Grand Floridian, where this attack happened sits on the shores of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon. The lake reaches a depth of 14 feet and connects to the adjacent Bay Lake. When it was first opened to the public, swimming was allowed but has been since prohibited. There are ‘no swimming’ signs posted at the lagoon.
Update 6:30 a.m.:The search continues today for a 2-year-old boy who was grabbed by an alligator at the Seven Seas Lagoon nearDisney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spain Orlando.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a news conference Wednesday morning that the 2-year-old was believed to be playing near the foot of the water when the gator attacked. There was a lifeguard on duty but he was not able to get to the boy in time.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said they have already pulled out and analyzed four alligators from the lagoon, but none were suspected to have dragged the boy underwater.
“It’s very rare to be attacked by alligators in Florida,” said a FWC official.
The Sheriff’s Office said that they are working with the FWC to bring in more personnel for their search efforts.
“Right now, we’re just trying to find the young boy,” an Orange County Sheriff’s Office official said.
Divers, helicopter units and sonar boats will be brought to the lake today to search extensively in the dense, murky waters.
“I’m optimistic that we will have success in finding the child,” said a FWC official.
This case is one of many incidents with alligators in Florida this year. In May, amassive gator believed to be 15-feet-longwas caught on video wandering around on a golfcourse in Palmetto.
Within the same month another alligator was found with adays-old corpse in its mouthin a canal on the edge of the Everglades near Miami.
Original Story:Despite his father’s efforts to save him, a 2-year-old boy is missing after being taken by an alligator in the Seven Seas Lagoon nearDisney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spain Orlando.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told a news conference early Wednesday that his office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would not end the search until the child is recovered.
Demings said a 911 call around 9:16 p.m. reported that the child, a guest at the Disney hotel on vacation from Nebraska with his parents and two siblings, a 4-year-old and an 18-year-old, had been attacked by an alligator.
He said there was no security footage of the incident at this time, but witnesses have provided detailed descriptions of the incident. The family was out onthe beach area at the lake’s edge, with the father watching nearby as the toddler played in around one foot of water.
The alligator came up and attacked the child. Demings said the father struggled to try and get his son and was not successful, sustaining minor scratches to his hands in the effort.
The family, who arrived at the resort on June 12, alerted a nearby lifeguard who was in the area, but they were unable to rescue the child.
Authorities are unsure how large the alligator is, but witness reports range between four and seven feet in length.
More than 50 law enforcement officers, including two marine units, were actively searching the lagoon.
“As a father, as a grandfather, we’re going to hope for the best in these circumstances,” he said. “But based upon my 35 years of law enforcement experience, we know that we have some challenges ahead at this time.
“We’ll be out through the night continuing this search until we can have a successful resolution.”
Demings said there were signs posted around the lagoon that said the area was not for recreational swimming. There were no other people in the water at the time, he said.
FWC officer Chad Weber said his office was not aware of any recent alligator sightings in the man-made lake, which is bordered by three resorts in the Walt Disney World entertainment complex.
“We don’t have any reports, we haven’t checked in to see if we have any nuisance alligator reports in that area,” he said.
“We’re pulling extra resources and conducting a parallel investigation [with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office]. We’re putting every effort into locating the child and trapping the alligator; a trapper is on the water right now .
“We’ll be here with them til there’s a resolution.”
Walt Disney World director of communications Jacquee Wahler said everyone at the resort was “devastated by this tragic accident.”
Demings said Disney is cooperating fully with the investigation.
It is the latest in a string of tragedies to strike the area in the past few days, after a mass shootingthat killed 49 and injured 53 moreat an Orlando nightclub early Sunday. That incident came on the heels ofthe shooting death of Christina Grimmieafter a live performance on Friday night.
“We’re doing our best to deal with all of the situations we have going on here,” Demings told reporters. “But our staff is very resilient and tonight they’re very focused on assisting this family.”