Florida authorities unsure they captured Disney gator that killed boy

Posted at 2:32 PM, Aug 22, 2016
Lane Graves (Courtesy: Orange County Sheriff's Office)

Lane Graves (Courtesy: Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

The 2-year-old Nebraska boy killed by an alligator at a Walt Disney World hotel in June died after a series of events that would have been difficult to prevent, according to a report that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released Monday.

The report’s findings include:

• The alligator that killed Lane Thomas Graves took him in a predatory manner consistent with the reptile’s hunting techniques. The boy was standing in ankle-deep water while he fetched buckets of water for a sand castle he was building. Neither the boy nor his family did anything provocative.

• The family was by the lagoon near the hotel around 8:30 p.m., during gator hunting time, to watch the movie “Zootopia” on the beach.

• The alligator took Lane when he bent down. Matt Graves, the father, tried to pry open the gator’s mouth that was clamped on his son’s head and neck, but the animal broke away.

• A South Carolina tourist spotted the alligator from his hotel porch about 45 minutes before the attack. He said he pointed out the animal to a Disney employee. Just before the attack, he saw children in the ankle-deep water and was going out the door to warn them when he heard the mother screaming.

• Trappers killed six gators capable of the attack but were unable to make a DNA match to identify the offending animal positively. The state is confident, however, that one of the two females caught close to the attack location was the culprit since alligator behavior typically would be to stay close to the area of a lost food source.

• Orange County, where the attack happened, ranks fifth out of 67 counties in Florida in the number of unprovoked alligator bites.

• The alligator may have lost its fear of humans because of living in close proximity with large numbers of people.

• The man-made Seven Seas Lagoon is not an ideal alligator habitat because its water is deep and clear, with the depth dropping off deeply near shore, and it provides few hiding places. But it is still not an unsuitable habitat.