A massive search is underway for a 2-year-old boy who was dragged into the water by an alligator near a Walt Disney World resort in Florida last night (June 14).
The boy was playing by the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando when he was attacked and pulled into the water.
The boy’s father fought with the gator but was unable to pull his son from its jaws.
Police and wildlife experts are still looking for the child, and have killed four alligators in the lagoon, but no sign of the boy has been found.
A sheriff’s department spokesman said the child ”was playing at the edge of the water, probably about a foot or so into the water.” There were “no swimming” signs in the area, but nothing warning guests about alligators.
Alligator attacks in the area are “very rare,” especially attacks on toddlers, the director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the Orlando Sentinel.
The state logged one unprovoked alligator attack in Florida in 2015, which was the first since 2007. But increased waterfront development is bringing alligators and humans into closer proximity.
A massive gator was seen at a Florida golf course about 100 miles from Disney World last month.
“Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family,” a spokeswoman told the Sentinel. “We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement.”
The tragedy comes as Disney prepares for high-profile launch of its Shanghai Disney resort in China on Thursday. The company has been working for decades to secure government approval for the $5.5 billion project.