The first photo of Lane Graves, the 2-year-old who was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World, was released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, June 15, after the boy’s body was recovered from a lagoon.
Sheriff Jerry Demings confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that the toddler’s body was recovered “completely intact” from the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa after he was snatched by an alligator at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14.
“There’s no question in my mind the child was drowned by the alligator,” Demings told reporters, adding that Lane’s body had been found “in the immediate area of where he was last seen” after the boy’s father, Matt Graves, had unsuccessfully tried to pull his son out of the alligator’s mouth.
As Us Weekly previously reported, more than 50 law enforcement officers searched throughout the night for the boy, who had arrived at the upscale resort for a vacation with his Nebraska-based family on Sunday, June 12. The family of four had been enjoying an outdoor movie night on the shore of the lagoon when the alligator snatched the child, who was wading in the water.
Divers found and euthanized five alligators in the lagoon as they searched for Lane, and authorities will be analyzing the animals’ bite marks to determine whether one of them grabbed the boy, Omaha.com reports.
“There’s a good chance we already have the alligator,” Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said at the press conference. If testing reveals otherwise, crews will continue to search the man-made lake, which stretches across 200 acres, for the gator that grabbed the boy.
Demings told reporters that he and a Catholic priest told Matt and Melissa Graves that their son’s body had been found by divers using sonar equipment. “The family was distraught, but also somewhat relieved that we were able to find their son with his body intact and that his body was located so they can come to grips with what happened,” he said, adding, “It was a tough message to deliver to them to let them know that their child was dead.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office later released Lane’s picture on Twitter and wrote that “the Graves family appreciate the support they have received and have asked for privacy as they grieve the loss of their son.”
Norm Hale, principal at St. Patrick’s School in Elkhorn, Nebraska, told Omaha.com that the family had lived in Elkhorn for a little over a year. “It’s a tragedy of epic proportions, for not only our parish and the school and the Graves family, but for our community,” he said. “It has wounded the community.”
The Graves family appreciate the support they have received and have asked for privacy as they grieve the loss of their son.