Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

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Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Soontir C'boath »

Looks like Disney or whomever owns the land will have to put up new signs, but in the meantime I would not be surprised if someone gets sued.
BBC wrote:Alligator drags boy into water near Orlando Disney resort

Florida police are searching for a two­year­old boy who was dragged into water by an alligator near a Disney resort.

The boy was on the shoreline of the Seven Seas Lagoon by the Disney Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando when he was dragged away late on Tuesday, officials said.

The boy's father entered the water and tried in vain to grab him from the alligator's jaws, police said.

Fifty police and wildlife experts were searching for the boy, officials said.

"We are searching for a little boy to hopefully bring the family some comfort," said police spokesman Jeff Williamson.

Four alligators have so far been taken from the lake and killed for examination, but no evidence of the boy has been found, police said.

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The family with three children from the state of Nebraska were relaxing near the shore of the lagoon when the incident happened at 21:16 local time (01:16 GMT).

There is a "no swimming" sign on the man­made lagoon, but although the boy was on the edge of the water there was no indication he was swimming, Mr Williamson said.

His father sustained minor lacerations to his arm in the attempt to retrieve his child, he added.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by mr friendly guy »

Shit. I was in the Grand Floridian a couple of years ago. Great place. I would never have thought alligators could get that close.

Condolences to the family.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Torben »

My condolences and sympathy lie with the family.

I grew up and live in Florida, and have three small children. One thing that's drummed into those of us that live here "If you can't see the bottom of the water, assume there's gators in it." I've literally seen 10 foot plus gators sitting on the roadside sunning themselves, in the middle of afternoon traffic. One wonders why we don't have signs posted every-damned-where about how dangerous they can be and how prolific they actually are - especially since we have so many visitors from areas where gators don't live and they don't know to be wary of them.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Broomstick »

When I went to Florida I was cautioned that any body of water could contain an alligator so be watch out. I was told that they could be found on dry land, too, so keep my distance from any I see. It was never an issue for me, but I appreciated the warning.

Here's the problem as I see it: people who live in Florida know about the local hazard taking the form of giant, flesh-eating lizards just as folks in the US Midwest know what to do in the event of a tornado and Californians know what to do in an earthquake. It's such a well-known local hazard that I think the locals sometimes forget that tourists are simply unaware of the danger.

Also, Disney doesn't want to scare the tourists by posting WARNING! ALLIGATORS MAY BE PRESENT! signs everywhere. Even though alligators are sort of everywhere in that state, being rather common native wildlife that will move from place to place under their own power. Because Disney has so many tourists from all over the world I think they really should post signs about such local hazards because it's not a problem you have to deal with on most of the planet.

Maybe Disney should sweep waters on their properties frequently and remove any giant, flesh-eating lizards they find. Although that will never end - there will always be new gators moving in from elsewhere.

Unfortunately, we're not going to find the boy alive or even intact. The fact they're cutting open the gators they do catch to look inside shows the authorities know that, too, although the media is carefully avoiding saying "young boy eaten by alligator at Disney World".

It does remind me of this bit from Jurassic Park:
John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked!
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.
Maybe not the pirates but apparently there are water hazards....

I do feel bad for the parents. Losing a child is horrible, but watching your child dragged off by a predator is the stuff of epic nightmares.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Borgholio »

Did a bit of reading on the lagoon. It is actually 172 acres in size and it is connected to other waterways via a series of canals. I doubt they're ever going to find the gator that ate the kid. They supposedly do sweep that area for gators but given the size and depth of the lagoon, it's not surprising they keep getting in there.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by RogueIce »

They recovered his body. Five gators have been euthanized, but FWC isn't sure they got the right one just yet. The investigation is ongoing. Disney does have a wildlife management plan in place to remove gators, but obviously no system is perfect. The Sheriff says they have no record of any previous incidents at WDW.

Story: http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/ba ... e_gat.html
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Sea Skimmer »

So 23 people killed and 383 unprovoked bites, 126 of those requiring no threatment, is the sum total of alligator carnage in Florida since 1948. 15 of the deaths adults and half of those swimming in the water, and 5 of 8 kids were also swimming. This attack was very unlikely to begin with, even if parents in Florida are much more wary with children then those of Nebraska.

You aren't keeping the gators out of any large body of water including swimming pool that isn't fully fenced, and a place like Disney is way too sprawling and integrated with the water to do that. Not in any fashion that would be effective compared to money spent on trapping. This family got very unlucky, I imagine Disney will make changes, but there is not really much to be said or done about it when the gators are so enormously numerous. They are very important to the ecosystem of course.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Lord Revan »

Isn't the only realistic way to make sure that no gator attacks like this one happen ever again to willfully and intentionally hunt the gators to extinction which isn't an option for rather obvious reasons.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Simon_Jester »

Basically yes. Although there is some balance to be struck, where a combination of trapping and hunting keeps the alligator population limited and prevents them from getting too comfortable in the most populated areas, while keeping enough alligators around that ecosystems do not suffer unduly.

An incident like this is likely to push the balance a little further over against the alligators.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by LadyTevar »

Many news reports have stated that the lake had prominent "NO SWIMMING" signs, so Disney was warning people not to go into the water. It doesn't say if the sign was there because there could be/were gators in the lake, or Disney simply didn't want people in it, but the lake was clearly marked as "keep out of the water".

The parents allowed the child to play by the side of the lake, and by some reports wade into the water, despite the warning sign. Maybe they thought there was a difference between playing in the water and swimming in it. Maybe they thought the sign didn't apply to them. Maybe, they didn't see the signs at all. Either way, it doesn't matter. The warning was there, and tragedy struck because they let their son play in the water.

They could try to sue, but the fact they ignored all the warning signs would make it difficult. The most they could claim was the warning didn't explicitly state the danger of alligators in the lake. Disney will probably offer a settlement in the next few days to avoid the publicity of a trial, and that will be that.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Sea Skimmer »

It looks like Disney has up to several deaths a year at its various Florida parks, and has fought drowning and accident death lawsuits many times before. At least if your trying to collect several million dollars out of them they do. In this case since the public already knows all the main details Disney might figure they have no reason to change policy. I think that really comes down too if the kid was in the water or not, if they were Disney is going to try to disclaim all liability on the basis the hazard was innate to the state.
Simon_Jester wrote:Basically yes. Although there is some balance to be struck, where a combination of trapping and hunting keeps the alligator population limited and prevents them from getting too comfortable in the most populated areas, while keeping enough alligators around that ecosystems do not suffer unduly.
Its been Florida fish and wildlife policy for a long time that any gator that gets reported as an issue over 4ft is killed out of hand. They don't bother trying relocation at all because gators have a very accurate homing instinct and most will return to the spot removed. So they take them and shoot them. South Carolina puts the 'shoot em' threshold at 5ft. These are just 11lb and 22lb weights for reference, small gators are very light. A 15ft gator is 500lb class gator.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Broomstick »

The thing is, a lot of places like state parks will explicitly state something like "DANGER! ALLIGATORS!", and up near us there are places that aren't signed as "NO SWIMMING" but rather "DO NOT ENTER THE WATER" (in our case, dangerous currents not giant flesh-eating lizards).

NO SWIMMING is not the same as DO NOT ENTER WATER or DANGER HAZARDOUS WILDLIFE. Disney doesn't want to scare tourists, maybe, but by not being explicit it's possible they could be held liable.

Apparently, this is the first gator attack at Disney, and for darn sure there have been gators there the whole time. Such occurrences are rare, but no less tragic for being rare.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Zixinus »

What I don't get is that if there are gators around the water, why make it part of the park? Why not just close it off? Just for a bit of a beach?
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Simon_Jester »

There are alligators in any large body of water in Florida, basically, unless exhaustive (and non-feasible) efforts are made to fence the body of water off. So yes, they decided to have a large body of water in their park... with the consequence that alligators could potentially live in it.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Broomstick »

I gather "alligators in water" in Florida are like "squirrels in trees" just about anywhere else. They're sort of ubiquitous.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Zixinus »

So it is very likely that the designer of the place simply did not factor in the possibility of an alligator getting in and park staff (who are probably locals) did not consider that people would ignore the sign?
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Broomstick »

A lot of people do not consider wading to be ignoring a No Swimming sign.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Purple »

They don't? I always thought those signs essentially meant "don't touch the water at all". Sort of like how a no walking on grass sign also forbids sitting on it, urinating on it, eating it etc.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Zixinus »

Of course, it is one of those things you can argue about if you want but the fact remains that "beware alligators" would have resolved a lot of ambiguity.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

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Zixinus wrote:Of course, it is one of those things you can argue about if you want but the fact remains that "beware alligators" would have resolved a lot of ambiguity.
Can't imagine why they wouldn't want to put that on a sign at a fucking Disney resort.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Purple »

Zixinus wrote:Of course, it is one of those things you can argue about if you want but the fact remains that "beware alligators" would have resolved a lot of ambiguity.
No argument can be had there.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Broomstick »

Given that there is a non-insignificant number of foreign tourists, of varying English skills, the less ambiguity the better when it comes to Disney signage.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Ralin »

Broomstick wrote:Given that there is a non-insignificant number of foreign tourists, of varying English skills, the less ambiguity the better when it comes to Disney signage.
I'm not disagreeing mind, just saying it's easy to see why Disney's PR people would be reluctant to put "DANGER: MONSTERS WILL EAT YOUR CHILDREN" signs on their vacation properties.

Obviously that means they should be encouraged to do so if they won't do it on their own. And by encouraged I mean forced.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

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Interesting article from the BBC, analyzing the situation.
Orlando alligator: Who is liable for toddler's death?

On Wednesday, police in Orlando, Florida, recovered the body of a toddler who was dragged underwater by an alligator while staying at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.
Though alligators are common in the state, the incident raises questions about whether Disney could have prevented the boy's death.
Two-year-old Lane Graves was wading in shallow water on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon when he was seized.
"No swimming" signs were displayed, but they did not warn specifically about the presence of alligators in the water, a situation that a Disney spokeswoman said was being reviewed.
"All of our beaches are currently closed, and we are conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols," Jacquee Wahler said in a statement on Thursday.
"This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings."
Lane and his family, who are from Elkhorn, Nebraska, were relaxing near the lagoon's shore on Tuesday night when he was taken by an alligator believed to have been between 1.2-2m (4-7ft) long.
After a 16-hour search, Lane's body was found "intact" a few metres from shore and 1.8m (6ft) underwater, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.
The Orange County Medical Examiner's Office subsequently said the boy had died from drowning and traumatic injuries.
"We are devastated and heartbroken by this tragic accident and are doing what we can to help the family during this difficult time," said Walt Disney World president George Kalogridis.
Police have said an investigation is under way, and that it is not criminal in nature.
The death is the first of its kind at Disney World in its 45 years of operation, according to Sheriff Demings. But is the company legally liable?

'Anomaly'
Disney's liability hinges on whether it was negligent in warning guests about the potential dangers of alligators and what the company knew about the risk of harm, according to Florida state law.
Though state agencies post alligator warning signs near bodies of water, the attack occurred at a lagoon Disney said was marked only with "no swimming" signs, which did not specify the animal's threat.
Disney also works with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to remove "nuisance alligators", or alligators that are considered dangerous to people, from its waters.
But officials could not identify the last alligator sighting on Disney property or say how many had been removed in recent weeks, Nick Wiley, the FWC executive director, told the Orlando Sentinel.
Authorities removed and euthanised five alligators from the water after Lane Graves was taken.
Disney's liability also depends on the status of both the family and the alligator.
According to Florida's premises liability law, a property owner is responsible for keeping property in a safe condition and for warning its "invitee", or someone welcomed onto the property, of concealed dangers that are known to owners.
The owner is also responsible if a child who has trespassed is harmed by an "attractive nuisance" on the property. An "attractive nuisance" is defined as an artificial item, such as a swimming pool or hot tub, that could be considered enticing to a child. The law, however, does not extend to wildlife.
Property owners are also not responsible for "invitee" encounters with wild animals, according to state law. The company would be responsible only if the alligators were kept as pets or under Disney's control.
Despite these protections, the company could be held accountable if found to be outright negligent.
John Mesirow, a personal injury lawyer in Washington, told the BBC that the case against Disney would be tough legally because of the infrequency of alligator attacks.
However, Disney would almost certainly settle with the family in a civil case to avoid a public relations disaster, Mr Mesirow said.
"They will definitely settle, because a two-year-old died on their property and they cater to children," he explained.
"As far as a civil case goes, on the law, it's not that strong."
Disney's role will depend on what the resort knew and did about the threat of alligators and whether the "no swimming" signage was considered a reasonable enough warning for its guests.
Joseph Page, a law professor at Georgetown University, told the BBC that unless Disney was found guilty of "egregious misbehaviour", it is unlikely to be found negligent.
"After all, it is Florida," he said. "Everyone knows there are alligators near the water."
Still, alligator deaths in Florida are rare.
Before Lane Graves' death, 23 people had been killed by alligators in the state since 1973, according to FWC statistics.
Animal expert Jeff Corwin told the BBC that the attack was an "anomaly" and not much could have been done to prevent it.
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Re: Alligator Takes 2-Year Old near Disney World

Post by Elheru Aran »

Language notwithstanding, there are certainly any number of simple graphics which would have sufficed in making it extremely obvious that there was a risk of alligator attack. A simple block depiction of an alligator emerging from the water with open jaws, for example. A picture of someone entering the water with the classic barred-circle superimposed. Things like that.
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