The father of a toddler killed by an alligator at a Disney resort last month told rescue officials two alligators were involved in the attack, according to emails from the Reedy Creek fire department.
Matt Graves said he was attacked by a second alligator as he tried to reach his two-year-old son, Lane, after the boy was pulled into the water outside the upscale Grand Floridian Resort.
Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission officials have said they are “confident” they caught the alligator that killed the boy.
Agency records list 15 alligators caught on Disney property from the beginning of this year through May. Six were trapped after the 14 June attack.
Capt Tom Wellons described his interaction with the Nebraska father in emails to his supervisors obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
Wellons said Matt Graves initially refused to leave the area as rescuers searched for Lane, even though the father needed stitches and antibiotics from gator bite marks. Wellons said he eventually persuaded him to get medical treatment, promising he could return.
“This incredibly sweet couple insisted on showing us pictures of their happy son. [The] mom kept referring to him as her ‘happy boy’,” Wellons wrote.
On the way to the hospital, Graves shared “the horror that he experienced” as his son was being pulled into the water and “how another gator attacked him as he fought for his son”, according to the email to supervisors.
The emails were forwarded to Orange County officials to alert them that there may be a second gator. The boy’s body was discovered intact about 15 yards from the shore, 6ft underwater. Signs posted in the area advised against swimming but did not warn of alligators.
Walt Disney World recently erected “no fishing” signs on several properties. Fishing at Disney World is now limited to excursions. Netting was also added to the rope fences that were installed after the attack and hotel beaches are now staffed by employees and closing at night, except during fireworks.
Disney has beaches at eight hotels and at the Fort Wilderness campground.