New tragedy in Orlando: Gator attacks a 2-year-old, search continues

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Orange County, Fla. Sheriff Jerry Demings, left, and Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at a Wednesday morning news conference to discuss updates. They remain hopeful. Image: WSB
Authorities searched throughout the night for a 2-year-old snatched by a gator at a Disney resort. The search continues this morning. Photo: Katherine White Popp via WFTV

Authorities searched throughout the night for a 2-year-old snatched by a gator at a Disney resort. The search continues this morning. Photo: Katherine White Popp via WFTV

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A city rattled first by the shooting death of “Voice” performer Christina Grimmie, then the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, now has new tragedy to process. Authorities searched throughout the night for a 2-year-old snatched by an alligator Tuesday night at a Disney resort.

UPDATE: Sheriff leaves little hope of a happy ending

A tense scene inside Disney resort

Orange County, Fla. Sheriff Jerry Demings, left, and Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at a Wednesday morning news conference to discuss updates. They remain hopeful. Image: WSB

Orange County, Fla. Sheriff Jerry Demings, left, and Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at a Wednesday morning news conference to discuss updates. They remain hopeful. Image: WSB

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The child was playing along the water’s edge in an area posted “no swimming.” There’s not a sign specifically warning about alligators. The child’s father tried to save him without luck. A lifeguard was on duty but was too far away to render any aid, the sheriff said.

Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said gator attacks on people are rare, but noted that Florida waterways are home to many of them. There’s no way to know their whereabouts.

“We have alligators in freshwater throughout Florida,” he said. “They move around.”

A Disney spokesperson said the company is devastated by the incident and is doing all it can to support the family and assist authorities.

“It’s still a search and rescue operation,”Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said during a Wednesday morning news conference. “We are very hopeful. We are hoping for the best. Sometimes you get the worst but we are hoping for the best.”

By midday Wednesday, things had taken a heartbreaking turn, and the sheriff described the effort as a “recovery” mission.


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