via Orlando Sentinel:
A 2-year-old boy who was attacked and dragged into the water by an alligator on the shores of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Tuesday night was still missing early Wednesday morning.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said rescue personnel had been actively looking for the child in the Seven Seas Lagoon for hours in a search and recovery effort but had not found him. They hoped to find him before daylight, he said. A dive team with sonar equipment was on standby — just part of a 50-person rescue team on the scene.
“As a father, as a grandfather, we’re going to hope for the best in these circumstances, but based on my 35 years of law enforcement experience, we know we have some challenges ahead of us,” Demings said.
Demings said the Nebraska family of five was relaxing on the shoreline when the alligator attacked the boy. The father entered the water and tried to pry the child from the gator, but was unsuccessful. He had scratches on his hands after the ordeal.
Parents then alerted a nearby lifeguard that an alligator had attacked the boy. Officials estimated it was between four and seven feet long.
The initial report came into officials at 9:16 p.m. Tuesday, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Rose Silva said.
Deputies closed off the area with crime-scene tape. Multiple emergency vehicles filled the front drive of the Victorian-style hotel and a helicopter hovered overhead. About 50 members of the Reedy Creek Fire Rescue, Orange County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife officials joined forces to search for the child and the alligator.
There are no signs warning of gators in the area, but there are notices posted against swimming in the man-made lake.
The Grand Floridian is an upscale luxury resort owned by Disney. It is one of three hotels on the monorail line, just one stop away from the Magic Kingdom Park.
A Disney official said they were “devastated” by the event.
Hotel guest A.J. Jain and his wife traveled from Georgia to Disney for a conference.
“I’m just here to say a prayer,” he said. “I can’t imagine what those parents are going through. It’s been one tough week in Orlando.”
This is just the latest tragedy in the Orlando area within a week span.
Singer Christina Grimmie was killed after a concert at the Plaza Live Friday night. The gunman killed himself after shooting her.
Early Sunday, a gunman killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others at the Pulse nightclub. The gunman was killed by law enforcement as they raided the club.
“We are all doing our best to deal with all the situations that we have going on here, but our staff is very resilient. And tonight, they’re very focused on assisting this family.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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