At least two Walt Disney World guests had spotted an alligator in the resort’s lagoon prior to the fatal attack that killed two-year-old Lane Graves.
According to the final investigative report released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, one tourist had alerted an employee nearly an hour before the attack that he’d seen an alligator. Another tourist had done the same just minutes before the attack.
The report states that one resort guest, Alfred Smith, spotted an alligator from his hotel room at 7:41 p.m, and pointed it out to a Walt Disney World employee. Around 8:15 p.m., another tourist spotted the animal about 5 feet away from the shore and told a resort employee, who went and told a supervisor. The Graves family said that they had exited the hotel at around 8:15 or 8:30 p.m. to go to a movie screening on the beach. Soon after, Lane was attacked.
Walt Disney World officials had also been warned about the presence of alligators more than a year before this incident, after a child had been chased by one. The response the guest received was, “Those are resident pets.”
The report went on to say that a separate investigation has been launched to determine whether there has been alligator feeding near the location where the attack occurred.
The state has been gathering statistics about unprovoked alligator bites for 66 years, and since then Orange County has had 17—the fifth highest incidence out of 67 counties. Lane Graves’ attack was the first fatal unprovoked alligator bite documented.
After the attack on June 14, Walt Disney World had shut down the resort and promised to install alligator warning signs as well as review their processes and protocols.
Walt Disney World could not immediately be reached for comment.