A 2-year-old boy was dragged away by an alligator at a Florida resort on Tuesday, local officials say, and an overnight search for the child has so far been unsuccessful.
The search, which at one point overnight involved 50 people, two boats and an alligator tracker, continues on Wednesday. Aircraft are being brought in as well.
“This is still a search and rescue operation,” Jeff Williamson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said at a press conference Wednesday morning, indicating that authorities are continuing to look for a living child.
“We are very hopeful — we are hoping for the best,” he said. “Sometimes you get the worst but we’re certainly hoping for the best.”
The alligator attacked the child at a sandy beach on a man-made lake near Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort Spa, shortly after 9 p.m. ET.
The 2-year-old was playing at the edge of the water, Williamson said Wednesday, when the alligator attacked. The child’s father entered the water to try to save his son.
“The father did his best — he tried to rescue the child, however, to no avail,” Williamson said. A lifeguard on duty was unable to help, possibly because he was too far away.
“The gator swam away with the child,” Williamson said.
The alligator is estimated to be between 4 and 7 feet long, The Associated Press reports. The wire service notes the attack occurred at a portion of the Seven Seas Lagoon that is marked with “no swimming” signs.
“We have alligators in all freshwater across Florida,” Nick Wiley of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation said Wednesday. “They move around.”
Since the boy disappeared, Wiley said, his team has removed four alligators from the lake, euthanized them and analyzed them. They found no evidence that suggested they were involved in the boy’s disappearance.
The Grand Floridian is a luxury hotel located within Walt Disney World Resort, near Orlando, Fla. The boy’s family was visiting from Nebraska, the AP reports.
“Everyone at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident,” Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said early Wednesday.Share