An alligator attacked and dragged a 2-year-old boy into the water Tuesday night while he was playing on a beach near a Disney resort in Orlando, police said.
A massive search was still under way Wednesday morning, with more than 50 law-enforcement officers and wildlife officials scouring the lake for the boy, reports NBC.
Jeff Williamson, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, described it as a “search and rescue operation” during a Wednesday morning press conference. “We are very hopeful,” he said at a morning news conference. “Sometimes you get the worst, but we are hoping for the best.”
The child was playing in the shallows of the lake with his father near Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa when the alligator — described as being between 4 ft. and 7 ft. long — attacked.
“The child was playing in the water, just a foot or so into the water, and the alligator came up and attacked,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. “The father at some point struggled to try to get his son and was not successful.”
The boy and his family, who live in Nebraska, were on holiday at the resort.
“We’re not leaving until we recover the child,” Demings said, adding that a dive team, search helicopters, sonar equipment and an alligator trapper were all being deployed to help find the boy.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission records, at least 41 unprovoked “major” alligator attacks have occurred in the state since 2010, with at least two deaths in 2015.