Imagine that you are a 2-year-old boy, having the time of your life. You flew from Nebraska to the tropical, always sunny Orlando, Florida. In this place- the characters you watch on TV, read about in books and see in movies are alive. You are surrounded by cotton candy, smiling faces, water parks, fireworks; the bounds of your imagination are stretched by this amazing place bringing all of your dreams to life.
And then suddenly you are snatched by a force much stronger than yourself. You are dragged into a dark, cold abyss with a pre-historic creature seizing your body. Suddenly you can’t breathe and the 24 months of life you once had are now gone.
The death of Lane Graves was a heartbreaking story. Lane was ripped away from his father by an alligator believed to be 4 to 7 feet long. The first death of a guest since The Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971.
Orlando was already having a really horrific week, with the death of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimme who was fatally shot on Friday, June 10th after a performance. The following night, 49 people were shot and killed by Omar Matten, an apparent ISIS supporter and Florida resident. These two appalling acts of violence were followed by the death of Lane Graves Tuesday night.
The reaction of the media seems to be blaming Disney for the horrific tragedy. The overtones of most reports seem to imply that Disney should have been aware that this attack was imminent, and that they should have done more to prevent such an event. But let me tell you, there is truly not much more Disney could have done to prevent this incident. An entire task force dedicated to monitoring alligator activity on the resort, along with “No Swimming” signs marking any water not monitored by a lifeguard.
Seven Seas Lagoon was a man made lake created by the Walt Disney Resort. The lake has canals connecting to other fresh water sources throughout the state. It is no surprise that Alligators have found their way to the water. The entire State of Florida has a swamp like climate- making home to the most Alligators in the country. Earlier this summer a 15-foot gator was found creeping along a golf course in Palmetto, Florida. This is not the first time an Alligator has found it’s way out of the mud they usually hide in. We have seen pictures of Alligators hiding in backyards, under cars and in the middle of towns.
As my mom is a Disney freak fan, I have been to the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando over 20 times. I have been in the Seven Seas Lagoon many times. My family often boats out to watch firework shows from a far. There are clear signs along the coast saying “No Swimming”. I understand that there is a difference between “No Swimming” and “Beware of Alligators”, but at the end of the day rules are rules; and because the rules were not followed- a tragedy occurred.
Disney’s safety measures were already being brought to question in wake of the horrific shooting at the Pulse night club, just half an hour away from Disney property, last week which left 49 people dead.
In my opinion, I think what happened was the perfect storm. It was around 9pm, when alligators are usually hunting for food. He was flopping around in the water which could have easily been mistaken as an animal in distress by the Alligator. The creatures are known to eat smaller animals. Alligators are notorious for bad eyesight, as well as not being extremely intelligent animals. Additionally- Alligators are typically more afraid of humans than humans are of them. The conclusion from Lane Grave’s body was found intact the next day is that the alligator realized the boy was not his prey and let him go. Unfortunately, the boy drowned as a result of being pulled into the water.
According to CNN, the chances of someone being injured by an alligator are 1 in 2.4 million. The boy truly just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Disney is said to be putting up Alligator warning signs and has indefinitely closed access to all of its lakes and rivers.