Boy grabbed by alligator died by drowning and trauma, says medical examiner

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The medical examiner's office in Orlando says a 2-year-old Nebraska boy died from drowning and traumatic injuries after being grabbed by an alligator at Walt Disney World.  The District 9 Medical Examiner's Office finished the autopsy of Lane Graves on Thursday and issued the cause of death.

Authorities recovered the boy's body intact Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after he was snatched from the shore of a lake.  His family was vacationing at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at Walt Disney World.

The boy waded into no more than one or two feet of water at the Seven Seas Lagoon around nightfall Tuesday when he was taken from a small beach. The boy's father desperately tried to fight off the gator, but couldn't save his son.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said "it was a tough message to deliver" to Matt and Melissa Graves, that their child is dead.  Demings said charges are unlikely, as there was no indication the parents committed any crime that contributed to the reptile grabbing their son

The sheriff says six alligators were captured and killed during the search, and there's a good chance that one of them is the killer, but a forensic investigation will continue to make sure.

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said trappers work with Disney regularly to remove alligators.  Right now, Disney tells us all signs near beaches simply say "no swimming."  Demings says his department and the state wildlife agency will look into the issue of signs around the lagoon.

The vice president of Walt Disney World Resort says the resort will be adding alligator warning signs.   Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler said in a statement Thursday evening: "We have closed all of our beaches and have made a decision to add signage, and we are also conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols."

The frequency of serious, unprovoked alligator bites has grown in Florida along with the state's population but fatal attacks remain rare. Alligator bites are most likely to occur in or around water, as alligators are not well-equipped to capture prey on dry land, says the FWC.

While they can lunge at prey along a shoreline, there's no evidence of alligators running after people or other animals on land.  If an alligator bites you, make a commotion: hit or kick the alligator, or poke it in its eyes, because alligators will retreat from prey they cannot easily overwhelm.

 

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