Orange County deputies are searching late into the night Tuesday and early into Wednesday morning for a toddler who was dragged into the water by an alligator near Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando.
The 2-year-old child, on vacation from Nebraska with his parents and two siblings, was dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon around 9:30 p.m., Rose Silva, spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, said. The boy's father, who was holding the child when the gator grabbed him, attempted to save his son, but was unsuccessful.
Deputies began searching the waters shortly after and cordoned off the area with crime-scene tape, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Multiple first responder vehicles flooded into the area surrounding the Victorian-style resort as helicopters hovered above the water.
According to Sheriff Jerry Demings, who addressed reporters late Tuesday night, there are currently 50 officials searching for the young child.
"As a father, as a grandfather, we are going to hope for the best," Demings said. "[W]e are not leaving until we recover the child."
Witnesses in the area reported the alligator was nearly 7-feet long.
The child, as of 1:30 a.m., had still not been discovered. Some said they saw the little toddler walking along the beach, near the water, but none reported witnessing the gator drag him in.
"Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this accident," a spokeswoman for Disney said at a press conference late Tuesday night.
The hotel — one of three owned by Disney — is an upscale luxury resort located along the monorail line, just one stop away from Disney's famous Magic Kingdom theme park. The sheriff said there have been no recent reports of issues with alligators in the area.
A.J. Jain, a hotel guest visiting Disney from Georgia, told the Sentinel he and his children were playing on the beach near the scene of the incident earlier Tuesday.
"I'm just hear to say a prayer," he said. "I can't imagine what those parents are going through. It's been one tough week in Orlando."
This incident comes after a rash of unfortunate happenings in Orlando. Late last week, singer Christina Grimmie, a 2014 contestant on "The Voice," was fatally shot three times following a concert in Orlando. Days later, a gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub, killing 50 people and leaving at least 53 others injured.
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