“He was found within the immediate area where he was last seen,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings at a press conference. “The family was distraught, but they were relieved to have the body back and intact.”
The 7- to 8-foot reptile grabbed the boy late Tuesday as he was playing in about a foot of water at the Seven Seas Lagoon at the resort. His father, who quickly rushed to the boy’s aid, could not fend off the alligator and received minor injuries to his hand.
The boy’s mother also rushed into the water, but when the frantic couple was unable to save their son, they alerted a nearby lifeguard who called 911.
Some 50 wildlife specialists, including trained alligator trappers, shifted early Wednesday from a search and rescue effort to a recovery operation, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.
The boy’s official cause of death has yet to be determined, but Sheriff Demings told reporters on Wednesday that “there’s no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator.”