The desperate father of a 2-year-old boy who was the victim of a horrific alligator attack at a Florida Disney resort reached into the reptile’s mouth in a vain attempt to try to wrestle free his son’s head from the reptile’s grasp, officials said in a comprehensive report on the tragedy.
The investigation also found that at least two guests at the resort had warned Disney staff prior to the deadly attack that they had seen an alligator in the water.
Lane Graves was making sand castles at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort about 8:30 p.m. on June 14 when the alligator grabbed the boy by the head and began dragging him into the water, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The boy’s father, Matt Graves, who was standing nearby, put his hands inside the alligator’s mouth to try to wrestle his son free, but he was not able to free his son before the creature vanished into deeper water.
The boy’s mother was also standing nearby when the attack happened.
A patrol officer found the body of the missing child the following day in the large manmade lagoon, submerged in about 7 feet of water near where the attack happened. The body was intact.
In a separate report, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office quoted a witness who said: “The alligator first came in headfirst toward the beach but turned around once it had the child in its mouth and crawled back into the water.”
Lane Graves, was about 37 inches tall and weighed about 30 pounds, the report said.
“I saw it come out to get him,” Matt Graves told investigators, according to the report quoted on time.com.
Alfred Smith, from South Carolina, saw an alligator in the artificial lake about an hour and a half before the attack. He even took a photograph from the porch of his hotel room, which he showed a member of staff.
The daughters of Shawna Giacomini from North Carolina also spotted an intruder in the lake and warned a member of staff.
It is unclear from the report whether these sightings were properly investigated or whether an alarm was raised.
As The Daily Beast reported yesterday, state officials said in the report they cannot definitively say they caught the alligator that attacked the boy: While trappers caught six gators in the aftermath of the tragedy, they were unable to make a positive DNA match.
However, the report added, officials are confident that one of the two females caught near the spot where Graves was snatched was the likely aggressor.
“We continue to pray for the Graves family,” FWC Director Nick Wiley said in a statement.
The child suffered injuries to his head and neck, officials said. A medical examiner deemed the death an accident.