Officials in Florida have recovered the body of a two-year-old boy,  Lane Graves of Elkhorn who was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney resort.

The body of the toddler was found by members of the Orange County police’s dive team on Wednesday “within the immediate area of where he was last seen” more than 15 hours earlier, Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters yesterday.

Graves was found “completely intact,” the sheriff said, adding that “there is no doubt in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator.” The body has been delivered to the Orange County medical examiner’s officer for an autopsy that will confirm the cause of death.

Demings also delivered a message on behalf of the boy’s parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, thanking members of the public for their support. “They do appreciate all of the prayers that have gone forward to allow those of us who are working on the professional side to do our jobs to recover their son,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this family.”

The attack happened at a lake near Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, at approximately 9:20 p.m. on Tuesday. Authorities said Graves was wading no more than half a metre into the Seven Seas Lagoon, an area with “no swimming” signs posted, when the gator emerged from the water. The child’s father managed to intervene, but could not stop the animal from taking the boy.

After the boy’s body was recovered, Walt Disney World president George Kalogridis issued a statement about the tragedy. “There are no words to convey the profound sorrow we feel for the family and their unimaginable loss,” Kalogridis said. “We are devastated and heartbroken by this tragic accident and are doing what we can to help the family during this difficult time. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we offer our deepest sympathies.”

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