Dad of Toddler Killed at Disney: There Were 2 Gators

Matt Graves says another alligator attacked him as he tried to rescue son from first gator
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2016 1:58 PM CDT
Updated Jul 4, 2016 12:33 AM CDT
Dad of Toddler Killed at Disney: There Were 2 Gators
A police helicopter helps search the Seven Seas Lagoon outside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort on June 15, 2016, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., after a 2-year-old toddler was dragged into the lake by an alligator.   (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The alligator that supposedly killed 2-year-old Lane Graves last month at Disney was euthanized a little more than a week later, but Lane's father has told rescue officials that two alligators were actually involved in the attack, the AP reports. 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 son after Lane was pulled into the water outside Disney's upscale Grand Floridian Resort. Capt. Tom Wellons—who described his interaction with the Nebraska father in emails to two supervisors that were obtained by the Orlando Sentinel—said the family kept showing rescuers pictures of the boy. "This incredibly sweet couple insisted on showing us pictures of their happy son," Wellons says in the emails. "[The] mom kept referring to him as her 'happy boy.'"

In the emails, Wellons notes that he advised Graves on the morning of June 15 he was going to need stitches and medication, as his leg was shredded from being bitten as he tried to save his son. Graves initially "refused to leave" the area but was eventually convinced after he was promised he could return after getting medical treatment. As he rode with Graves to the hospital, Wellons says that Graves relayed "the horror that he experienced" trying to save Lane and that "another gator attacked him as he fought for his son." Assistant Chief Stan Paynter reportedly forwarded this correspondence to Orange County officials so they'd know about the possibility of a second gator. Five alligators were killed shortly after the incident. The boy's body was discovered intact about 15 yards from shore, 6 feet underwater. (Disney has nixed all references to alligator and croc characters.)

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