The probe into the death of a two-year-old boy killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is not criminal in nature, the local sheriff’s office said on Thursday.
Police divers recovered the body of Lane Graves on Wednesday from the man-made lake where he had been snatched by the alligator as he played at the water’s edge the night before. He was found intact underwater.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, Rose Silva, said an investigation is on but is “not criminal in nature at this time”. She did not provide further details.
A source told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper that Disney World plans to install signs warning visitors of alligators.
A Disney spokeswoman said the company would review the posted signs that ban swimming in Seven Seas Lagoon but do not specifically warn about alligators. The spokeswoman declined to confirm the newspaper’s report, however.
The toddler was grabbed by the reptile at about 9:15 pm on Tuesday while his family, on vacation from Nebraska, relaxed on the shore nearby, authorities said. His parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, tried to save the child but were unable to free him from the alligator’s grip.
A complete autopsy was conducted on Thursday afternoon.
“The cause of death was ruled as a result of drowning and traumatic injuries,” the medical examiner’s office said in a brief statement.
The Graves family released a statement praising local authorities and added: “Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son. We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time.”
The aquatic predators often roll their larger prey beneath the surface until their victim stops breathing, experts say, and then stash the body away to eat later.
Walt Disney Co chief executive, Bob Iger, spoke with the family by telephone on Wednesday and expressed his sympathies, the company said.
Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said on Thursday that resort beaches would be off-limits to guests until further notice. They were closed off after the attack.
“All of our beaches are currently closed, and we are conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols,” Wahler said.
“This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings.”
Sixth alligator caught
The alligator was believed to be between 4 and 7 feet (1.2 and 2 meters) long.
Trappers killed and opened up five alligators on Wednesday for sign of the boy before his body was recovered.
The trappers remained at the lagoon on Thursday after removing a sixth alligator from the water late on Wednesday in an effort to find the one that snatched the child, said Greg Workman, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The commission’s executive director, Nick Wiley, has said there is a good chance they had already captured the alligator in question. But officials said the search would go on until that was proved by forensic tests such as DNA studies, teeth measurements and comparison of bite marks.
Workman said the commission also has wildlife officers on the scene around the clock. Though search operations are on through the day, they are especially vigilant at night when alligators are more active because of cooler temperatures and less human activity.
Disney shares gained 11 cents to close at $98.38 on Thursday. Its Orlando resort is the most visited theme park in the world, drawing more than 20 million visitors last year.
The incident came ahead of Thursday’s opening of the company’s first theme park in China , a $5.5 billion project in Shanghai that boasts Disney’s tallest castle.