The body of a 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was snatched off a Walt Disney World beach by an alligator and dragged underwater was recovered Wednesday, ending a ghastly search at one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, the AP reports. Divers found the body of Lane Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska, about 16 hours after authorities first got the call that a reptile had taken the boy at Seven Seas Lagoon on a beach at the Grand Floridian resort, Sheriff Jerry Demings said. The child's father tried to save him but couldn't. The sheriff said it appeared the gator drowned the child and left the body near the spot where he was last seen. An autopsy was planned. "Of course the family was distraught, but also I believe somewhat relieved that his body was found intact," Demings told a news conference.
The boy's parents were identified as Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn; the family of four was on vacation when the tragedy struck. A family friend released a statement on behalf of the couple thanking well-wishers for their "thoughts and hope-filled prayers." Disney World closed beaches around Seven Seas Lagoon during the search, and it was not immediately clear when they would reopen. While "no swimming" signs are posted at the beach where the animal snatched the boy, no signs warn about alligators. A company representative said Disney would "thoroughly review the situation for the future." The child had waded no more than 1 or 2 feet into the water of the Seven Seas Lagoon around nightfall Tuesday when he was taken from a small beach, authorities said. The boy's father desperately tried to fight off the gator, suffering lacerations on a hand, but he could not save his son. Neither could a nearby lifeguard, officials said.