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Probe of Disney resort alligator death not criminal, says sheriff

A group of people including alligator trappers wait near the Seven Seas lagoon at Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida

The investigation into the death of a two-year-old boy likely drowned by an alligator at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is ongoing but is not criminal in nature, a spokeswoman for the local sheriff’s office said on Thursday.

Police divers recovered the body of toddler Lane Graves on Wednesday from the man-made lake where he had been snatched by the alligator as he played at the water’s edge the night before.

The investigation is ongoing, said Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Rose Silva, adding, “It’s not criminal in nature at this time.” She did provide further details.

A Disney spokeswoman said late on Wednesday that the company will review the posting of signs that ban swimming in Seven Seas Lagoon but do not warn specifically about alligators.

Disney could not immediately be reached on Thursday for further comment.

The boy was grabbed by the reptile at about 9:15 pm local time on Tuesday while his family, on vacation from Omaha, Nebraska, suburb of Elkhorn, relaxed on the shore nearby, sheriffs officials said.

His parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, tried to save the child but were unable to pry him from the animal’s grip.

The boy’s body was later found intact underwater, and he was presumed to have been drowned by the alligator.

The reptile that seized the toddler was believed to be between 1.2 and 2 metres long.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials caught and killed five of alligators from the lake to examine whether they were to blame. So far, none of the five has been determined to be the culprit.

The commission’s executive director, Nick Wiley, said on Wednesday that officials believed there was a good chance they had already captured the alligator in question, but he said the search will go on until that was proved using forensic tests such as bite marks.

Walt Disney Co shares were down about 1 percent at $97.23. Its Orlando resort is the most-visited theme park in the world, drawing more than 20 million visitors last year.

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