Father tried to free toddler's head from alligator's mouth at Disney World resort

Lane Graves (2) died after being snatched and dragged underwater at Florida lagoon

Lane Graves

Officials search Florida's Seven Seas Lagoon after two-year-old toddler was dragged into the lake by an alligator | Photo: PA Images

The father of a boy killed by an alligator at a Florida Disney resort reached into the reptile's mouth to try and release his son, it has emerged.

A final report into the death of Lane Graves released by a wildlife agency said the two-year-old died from a crushing bite and drowning.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the reptile bit the toddler's head as he bent down at the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon.

At the time of the attack in June, a 16-year-old tourist said he heard a scream from the lagoon and saw the alligator taking the boy away.

Peter Courakos said: "The alligator first came in head first toward the beach but turned around once it had the child in its mouth.

"It crawled back into the water headfirst."

The report added that several guests at the resort reported seeing the alligator swimming in the lagoon shortly before the attack.

Alfred Smith said he photographed the animal from his hotel room balcony about an hour and a half before the tragedy.

He said he saw children playing in the ankle-deep water and was heading out the door to warn them when he heard Lane's mother screaming.


Another holidaymaker, Shawna Giacomini, told investigators her two daughters saw the alligator five feet from shore about 45 minutes before the attack.

The eldest daughter told a Disney employee about it, and that employee went to inform another Disney worker.

They said they then went to a nearby store and when they returned the boy had been attacked.

The wildlife agency's report also said the boy did nothing to provoke the alligator and the death has been classified as a predatory attack.

It added the alligator may have had a diminished fear of people by being in an area with lots of humans.
Wildlife officials are still investigating if alligator feeding took place.

Separately, the Orange County Sheriff's Office released its report and ruled the death an accident.

Disney lifeguard Christopher Tubbs told deputies after the boy was snatched he saw his feet sticking out about 20 feet from shore.

The sheriff's office report said: "He saw the alligator start slash(ing) around and the shoes went under the water and the alligator began its death roll."

Lane's parents have said they don't plan to sue Walt Disney World over the death.

After the attack, Disney World made changes to limit possible visitor contact with alligators on the property.

Workers were seen building a stone wall around the lagoon and "No Fishing" signs were installed around waterfront areas.

Fishing at Disney World is now limited only to excursions.