The parents of the two-year-old boy who was dragged to his death by an alligator at a Disney resort have spoken out.
Matt and Melissa Graves were unable to save their son Lane as the predator pulled him into the water at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando.
The couple, who were on vacation from Nebraska with their two children, have said they are devastated by their loss.
They revealed their pain as Disney confirmed they would be installing warnings next to the lake where the boy died, and Florida’s legal community predicted a multi-million-dollar payout for the boy’s family.
The company has faced questions over why the signs by the water said ‘no swimming’, even though a neighboring hotel alerted guests to the underwater beasts.
The Graves family released a statement praising local authorities.
They added: ‘Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son. We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time.’
Matt Morgan, an Orlando lawyer, predicted a multi-million-dollar settlement for wrongful death.
‘Every parent across America has had this family’s nightmare running through their minds and it’s heartbreaking to think that this may have been a preventable tragedy,’ Morgan told the Times of London.
He said any case would focus on what Disney knew about alligators in the lagoon and when they knew it, and whether the company had taken sufficient measures to protect its guests.
He pointed to claims that guests had previously fed alligators on the beach where the boy was snatched.
‘It’s common sense that if alligators are fed on a continuing basis that they will return,’ said Morgan. ‘If evidence supports that Disney were aware people were feeding them and didn’t erect a fence or warn of the potential of alligators to come on to the beach, that’s going to be a factor.’
A GoFundMe page set up to support the family had raised more than $50,000 as of Friday morning.
Jarrod Parde, who said he was a friend of the Graves, thanked donators on behalf of the family.
He wrote: ‘First off, thank you to ever single one of you who have donated and have left amazing comments of love, kindness, and prayer during this horrific tragedy.
‘As you can understand, Matt & Melissa are going through an extremely difficult time battling the loss of their precious son, Lane.
‘They want to express nothing but love to all for the support they’re receiving from complete strangers.
‘Also, because of the kind and generous hearts of Matthew Wilhite and his family, this donation page has and will change the future for Matt & Melissa.
‘Thank you so much Matthew for setting up this page! Mr. Wilhite and myself are in constant contact as am I with the Graves family.’
He added: ‘The Graves family felt moved by his spirit to take action and help a desperate family in need. Please do not comment on the situation or Mr. Wilhite in a rude or judgmental way. Thank you and love to you all.
A complete autopsy was conducted on Thursday afternoon on the body of the boy, which was found intact underwater.
‘The cause of death was ruled as a result of drowning and traumatic injuries,’ the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a brief statement. It did not elaborate.
Rose Silva, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, said on Thursday that a probe into the toddler’s death was ongoing, but was not criminal in nature.
Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Iger spoke with the family by telephone on Wednesday and expressed his sympathies, the company said.
Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said on Thursday that resort beaches that were closed after the attack would be off-limits to guests until further notice.
‘All of our beaches are currently closed, and we are conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols,’ Wahler said in a statement. ‘This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings.’
The alligator was believed to be between 4ft and 7ft(1.2m and 2m) long.
Trappers killed and opened up five alligators on Wednesday for sign of the boy before his body was recovered.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.