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Florida authorities not sure they caught Disney gator that killed Lane Graves

By Allen Cone
Florida authorities not sure they caught Disney gator that killed Lane Graves
Two-year-old Lane Graves died after being dragged into a lake by an alligator at a Disney World Resort in Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Orange County Sheriff's Office released their reports in Lane's June 14 death. Photo courtesy of Orange County Sheriff/Twitter

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Florida authorities aren't 100 percent certain they captured the alligator that killed a 2-year-old Nebraska boy wading in the shallow waters at a Disney World resort.

This was among the details that emerged after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Orange County Sheriff's Office released their reports Monday in Lane Gaves' June 14 death, which was ruled an accident by the sheriff's office.

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The FWC said in its report that it captured six alligators 7 to 8 feet long that would have been capable of such an attack. Two females were found within two-fifths of a mile from where the toddler was attacked, but DNA and bite comparisons were inconclusive.

"While we cannot say with absolute certainty that the subject animal has been taken... it is very likely one of the two females captured close to the attack location was the offending animal," FWC said in its report.

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Lane's body was found intact in the Seven Seas Lagoon 16 hours after he disappeared. An autopsy showed he died from drowning and traumatic injuries.

Officials said Lane and his father were building a sand castle in ankle-deep or less water when the alligator bit Lane's head and he was pulled into the water. Previous reports said that they were "wading" into the water, where "no swimming" signs were posted.

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Neither person provoked the animal, according to the FWC report.

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The father, Matt Graves, attempted to pry the gator's mouth open but the animal broke free.

At least two people reported to Disney workers seeing an alligator in the water before the attack.

One tourist saw a gator from his hotel porch and then pointed it out to a Disney employee. He mentioned he saw children playing in the ankle-deep water and just as he was going to warn them about the alligator, he heard the mother scream.

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The man-made Seven Seas Lagoon's water drops off sharply from the shore, making it not an ideal alligator habitat.

The alligator may have lost its fear of humans because of living in close proximity with large numbers of people, the FWC said.

"The victim could have been mistaken for some of the animal's normal prey like opossum, armadillo or raccoon," FWC officials wrote.

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Rock barriers will replace a temporary rope fence along the beaches on Disney property.

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