The family of the 2-year-old boy killed by an alligator during a vacation in Florida has spoken of their grief and devastation in a public statement.
Lane Graves died after he was dragged underwater by an alligator estimated to be between four and seven feet in length on June 14, according to media reports.
“Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son,” Matt and Melissa Graves said in the statement, according to ABC News. "We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time. To all of the local authorities and staff who worked tirelessly these past 24 hours, we express our deepest gratitude."
The family had just finished watching an outdoor movie when the incident happened around 9:15 p.m. on June 14 at a Walt Disney World resort in Orlando. Lane was wading in water about a foot deep when he was pulled under by the alligator. Matt tried to wrestle his son free from the alligator, but failed.
A large team of rescuers searched the man-made lake at the resort. Lane’s body was found intact on June 15 and removed from the water, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
An autopsy was performed on the body on June 16, and the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Lane died as a result of drowning and traumatic injuries, according to Reuters.
At least five alligators were also removed from the lake and killed. Officials could not be sure the one that attacked Lane was among them, but they said it was "a good chance."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explained that Disney has full autonomy when dealing with alligators on its property, so it is unclear when the last gator sighting had been, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“We have an open partnership with them where they can just call a trapper or have a staffer take out the alligator,” the commission's executive director, Nick Wiley, said. “They take the action directly.”
There were signs warning against swimming at the resort, but nothing to say alligators represented a threat in the area.
A Disney spokeswoman stated the signs would be reviewed.
“It’s not criminal in nature at this time,” added spokeswoman Sheriff's office spokeswoman, Rose Silva, said the investigation was not of a criminal nature at this time.