By Laila Kearney
(Reuters) – The investigation into the death of a two-year-old boy likely drowned by an alligator at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is ongoing but is not a criminal case, a spokeswoman for the local sheriff’s office said on Thursday.
Police divers recovered the body of toddler Lane Graves on Wednesday from the man-made lake where he had been snatched by the alligator as he played at the water’s edge the night before, despite efforts by his parents to rescue him.
“It’s still an ongoing investigation,” said Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Rose Silva. “It’s not criminal in nature at this time,” she said, declining to provide further details on the probe.
A Disney spokeswoman said late on Wednesday that the company will review the posting of its signs which ban swimming in Seven Seas Lagoon – but do not warn specifically about alligators.
Disney spokespeople could not immediately be reached on Thursday for further comment.
The boy was grabbed by the reptile at about 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday while his family, who were on vacation from Nebraska, relaxed on the shore nearby, sheriff’s officials said.
His parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, tried to save the child but were unable to pry him from the animal’s grip. The father suffered cuts to his arm in the struggle.
The boy’s body was later found intact underwater, and the presumption is that he was drowned by the alligator.
The reptile that seized the toddler was believed to be between 4 and 7 feet (1.2 and 2 meters) long.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials have caught and killed five of alligators from the lake to examine whether they were to blame. So far, none of the five has been determined to be the culprit.
The incident, which prompted Disney temporarily to close the resort’s beaches, came ahead of Thursday’s opening of the company’s first theme park in China, a $5.5 billion project in Shanghai that boasts Disney’s tallest castle.
Walt Disney Company shares were down about 1 percent at $97.07 in morning trade after last closing slightly up.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Marguerita Choy)