#LaneGraves: Thousands Unite in Prayer for Family of 2 Y/O Boy Killed by Alligator at Disney Resort

( [email protected] ) Jun 16, 2016 09:19 AM EDT
People across the nation have united in prayer for Nebraska couple Will and Melissa Graves following the death of their 2-year-old year old son, who was snatched by an alligator while vacationing at a Disney resort.
2 year-old Lane Graves died after being attacked by an alligator while vacationing with his family in Orlando, Florida. Twitter

Thousands across the nation have united in prayer for Nebraska couple Will and Melissa Graves following the death of their 2-year-old year old son, who was snatched by an alligator while vacationing at a Disney resort.

On Tuesday night, searchers removed five of the reptiles from the water while looking for Lane Graves, who was attacked at the water's edge Tuesday night, according to the Washington Post.

Divers found the toddler's body "completely intact" after a 16-hour search near the Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Florida, one of the world's most popular tourist spots. Police said it appeared the gator drowned the toddler and left his body near the spot where he was last seen.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters that he and a Catholic priest informed the boy's parents and 4-year-old sister that Lane had been found dead after a search that lasted more than 16 hours.

"It was a tough message to deliver," Demings said. "The family was distraught, but also, I believe, somewhat relieved that his body was found intact."

Following the news of the little boy's death, social media lit up with prayers, condolences, and messages of support for the Graves family using the hashtag #LaneGraves.

"I can't imagine the grief these parents must be going through, and my prayers are with them," wrote one woman.

"Rest, in peace, baby lane - God bring his family peace & comfort #LaneGraves," wrote one supporter.

"As a parent, something about this particular tragedy has affected me more than any other I've ever heard before. I hope that everyone is supporting them in prayer," wrote another.

"I can't imagine what this family is going through. Please include them in your prayers," added another.

According to Associated Press, the deadly attack occurred Tuesday night while the couple watched their young son wade ankle-deep into the lake known by vacationers as Seven Seas Lagoon. The boy was just about a foot beyond the sand when, after 9 p.m., the alligator attacked.

Matt Graves reportedly rushed into the water and grabbed desperately for the boy; Graves cut his hand while attempting to wrestle Lane away from the gator but was unable to save his son.

One witness dialed 911 at 9:16 p.m., and the mother and father, who at different points both ran into the water after the child, shouted for the help of a nearby lifeguard.

"The parents diligently tried to get the child," Demings said.

The sheriff told the Associated Press on Wednesday that charges are unlikely against the boy's parents because "there's nothing in this case to indicate that there was anything extraordinary" in terms of parental neglect.

"There are no words to convey the profound sorrow we feel for the family and their unimaginable loss," George A. Kalogridi, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement. "We are devastated and heartbroken by this tragic accident and are doing what we can to help them during this difficult time. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we offer them our deepest sympathy."

The Florida resort did not have signage warning of alligators in the water, and the company will "thoroughly review the situation for the future," according to a Disney official.

"Everyone here at the Walt Disney World resort is devastated by this tragic accident," a Disney official told reporters Wednesday. "Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement."

A.J. Jain and his wife, resort guests from Georgia, were on the same beach with friends near the scene of the attack Tuesday night, reported the Orlando Sentinel.

"I'm just here to say a prayer," Jain said. "I can't imagine what those parents are going through. It's been one tough week in Orlando."

A GoFundMe account has been created for the Graves family as they mourn the loss of their young son. As of Thursday morning, $12,986 was raised by 444 people.

"The cost of losing someone so young should not become an additional burden for this young family. Please help if you can. If you cannot, please pray for them and hug your children like there is no tomorrow," reads the page. "All of the funds raised will be given directly to Matt & Melissa Graves to help support their family as they put the pieces of their lives back together."