US family 'devastated' by son's gator death

  • 18/06/2016
US family 'devastated' by son's gator death

The parents of a Nebraska toddler killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World say they're devastated by the loss of their son, whose death prompted the entertainment giant to add gator warnings at the resort.

A statement by Matt and Melissa Graves of Omaha, Nebraska, said words can't express the shock and grief their family is enduring.

"We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time," said the statement, released by a family friend on Thursday.

The brief statement also thanked authorities in Orlando, Florida, for their assistance after the gator grabbed two-year-old Lane Graves from shallow water in a lake at a Disney hotel on Tuesday.

An animal described as being as long as 2.2m snatched the little boy as he waded in shallow water around nightfall on Tuesday. The beach, located at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa across a lake from the Magic Kingdom, had "no swimming" signs but no warning about alligators.

The company said it will now add gator warnings. No time frame was announced immediately, and the resort's beaches remain closed.

A statement by Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said the company also was conducting a "swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols".

While it's an unwritten rule for Florida residents to keep small children away from ponds and lakes in a state with an alligator population estimated at more than 1 million, many out-of-state visitors aren't aware of threat posed by the reptiles.