In the days since 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed after being dragged off into a lagoon by an alligator while his family vacationed at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, numerous details have emerged. Read on for the most recent developments.
As reported exclusively by TheWrap, Disney was aware of an ongoing problem with guests feeding alligators and had ignored staff requests to put protective fences in place. Numerous employees at the theme park expressed anxiety to management about guests feeding the animals within the past 14 months.
Days after their son's body was recovered, Matt and Melissa Graves issued a statement saying that they are "devastated" by his death. “Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son.”
On Thursday, the Orange County, Florida, medical examiner's office released the cause of Lane Graves' death, saying he had died as the result of drowning and traumatic injuries.
Earlier this week, a report surfaced that a vacationing family was chased by an alligator at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, weeks before the attack on Lane Graves.
A number of crisis-management experts told TheWrap that Disney will likely weather the negative publicity from the alligator attack. While expert Erik Bernstein said that the company is "going to be painted as the villain" because it hadn't posted warning signs specifically mentioning alligators, he ultimately felt, “Disney’s brand is so strong and so ingrained in people’s minds that this is going to be written off as a one-off issue.”
On Thursday, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said that Graves' parents are unlikely to be charged for the incident, saying, "“There’s nothing in this case to indicate that there was anything extraordinary” in terms of neglect.
On Friday, Disney released an image of the new warning signs that will be placed at their resort beach locations. The new signs bear specific warnings about the presence of alligators and snakes.
After news emerged that Disney may have been repeatedly warned about the risk of an alligator attack occurring, crisis PR expert Andrew Ricci told TheWrap that the company could face additional difficulties, saying, "Now this becomes another major part of any potential litigation they might face."
On Saturday, Matt and Melissa Graves issued a new statement, saying that they are "overwhelmed with the support and love we have received from family and friends in our community as well as from around the country,” but nonetheless asking for the privacy they need "to lay our son to rest."