ORLANDO — The Orange County Sheriff and a Catholic priest delivered the sad news to the parents of a two-year-old boy from Elkhorn, Neb.,, who was vacationing with his parents and 4-year-old sibling at the Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando when an alligator pulled him into the water, killing him.
The sheriff and priest told the parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, what they expected; that their son Lane had been found in the water, dead.
“Of course the family was distraught but also somewhat relieved that we were able to find their son with their body intact,” said Sheriff Jerry Demings.
“The child was found, his body was completely intact,” Demings said. “There’s no reason for us to believe that the body that was recovered was not that of Lane Graves.”
Lane was found 10-15 yards out from the bank, in approximately 6 feet of water, the sheriff estimated. The dive team used sonar equipment to help them locate his body, and said Lane was within the immediate area where he was last seen.
There were ‘No Swimming’ signs posted along the lagoon, but the children were wading, not swimming in the water when the alligator grabbed the boy. His father jumped in and tried to pry the gator’s mouth open. His mother jumped in, too.
“There’s no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator,” Sheriff Deming said.
Sheriff Deming delivered a message from the parents, saying “They do appreciate all of the prayers that have gone forward to allow those of us working
on the professional side to do our jobs to recover their son so they can go forward at this time with a proper burial.”
“It was a tough message to deliver to them to let them know… that their child is dead,” Demings said.
There were no other people in the water at the time.
“We’re going to look at the 5 alligators we’ve already taken and we’re going to compare bite marks and things like that,” said Nick Wiley, Florida Fish and Wildlife. “We’re going to go through the forensics and make certain..that we’ve taken the alligator out.”