LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida -- The 2-year-old boy who witnesses said was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney World hotel has been found dead by the Orange County dive team, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters at a Wednesday news conference in Orlando.
The body of the boy, Lane Graves, was found intact at about 12:45 p.m. CDT, not far from where the boy was grabbed Tuesday night, Demings said.
He likely drowned, Demings said.
"Of course, the autopsy has to confirm that, but there is likely no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator," Demings said.
Demings said the body was located not far from where the boy was grabbed Tuesday night.
The sheriff also said the Graves family had a message for everyone -- that they appreciate all the prayers being sent their way.
The child was on the edge of the lagoon when the alligator dragged him into the water, according to the boy's family, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley. He cautioned that the investigation is still in an early stage and officials need to interview at least two other families who may have witnessed the attack.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the child was "wading ... along the lake's edge at the time that the alligator attacked."
Williamson said the boy was in less than a foot of water.
Parents rush into water to save son
The family of four -- the boy, his parents and his 4-year-old sister -- was on vacation from Nebraska, Demings said. They arrived Sunday.
The parents watched as the alligator attacked the toddler at the Seven Seas Lagoon. The lagoon is connected to a series of canals that feed into large bodies of water.
"The father actually went into the water to wrestle his son from the grips of the alligator," he said. The father suffered minor scratches on his hand but was unsuccessful in getting his son back.
The mother also went into the water, trying to find her child, he said.
"The sad reality of it is it's been several hours, and we're not likely going to recover a live body," Demings said.
He said there is no record of similar incidents in this particular area.
A handful of people witnessed the attack and supplied police with information.
Witnesses said the family was on the beach, and the boy's sister was in a playpen about 20 to 30 yards from the water, according to Demings. The toddler was nearby, wading in the water.
There are "No Swimming" signs at the lagoon, and no one else was in the water at the time of the attack besides the child, Demings said.
Declan Salcido, who's on vacation with relatives from San Jose, California, said the "No Swimming" signs are visible "from any vantage point."
The lagoon is not for recreational swimming.
"This is Florida, and it's not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water," Demings said.
Many on social media lambasted the child's parents, while others urged compassion.
Some people said a "No swimming" sign is hardly sufficient if alligators could be lurking.