The images of 2-year-old Lane Graves, who was snatched away from a Disney resort beach and killed by a Florida alligator on Tuesday, have been released. Amidst all the questions that have been asked in this shocking and tragic incident, the photographs remind us what is most important: that a young child has been lost and his family is grieving.
Divers retrieved Lane’s body 17 hours after he was grabbed by the gator while paddling in 10-foot water in the Seven Seas Lagoon despite signs warning resort-goers not to swim. Officials believe that the gators likely drowned the toddler, as they do with all their prey, and then abandoned the body.
Matthew and Melissa Graves were on the third day of their family vacation when the attack occurred and it became clear rather quickly that hope was, for the most part, lost and there was nothing to be done in terms of saving the young boy's life.
Rescuers used sonar and floodlights while floating on the murky water to find the child. Wildlife officials have already killed five alligators and will do forensic tests to determine if they have caught the animal responsible for Graves's death.
The local sheriff's department took to Twitter to express their condolences to the Graves family and asked well-wishers to respect the family's privacy in this incredibly difficult time.
Deepest condolences to the Graves family. Thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/nXaRrgjLhl— OCSO FL News (@OrangeCoSheriff) June 16, 2016
The Graves family appreciate the support they have received and have asked for privacy as they grieve the loss of their son.— OCSO FL News (@OrangeCoSheriff) June 16, 2016
Anna Shymanski, a friend and coworker of Matt Graves, spoke to the Orlando Sentinel, saying she was "stunned and heartbroken" by Lane's death. "Matt's family is the light of his life," she told the Sentinel, "And his family's anguish is our own."
Disney chairman and CEO also lent words of support to the Graves family, saying, "As a parent and a grandparent, my heart goes out to the Graves family during this time of devastating loss." Adding, "My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I know everyone at Disney joins me in offering out deepest sympathies."
There have been some questions as to how much responsibility can be placed on the resort's shoulders. While there were signs warning visitors not to swim in the water, there were no signs warning of alligators on the beach the Graves were on at the time of the incident. There are, however, signs warning of gators at the resort right next door on the same body of water.
Disney says it is "reviewing" the signs at its resorts.
(Photo from top: Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Orange County Sheriff’s Office)