Disney World honors child killed by alligator with a lighthouse statue

In June 2016, the country was shocked by the tragic news that a 2-year-old boy had been killed by an alligator at Disney World.

The child, Lane Thomas Graves, was collecting water to make sandcastles from ankle-deep water on the Seven Seas Lagoon beach when an alligator snatched him from the shallow water.

Tragedy At Disney World

Lane’s father, Matt Graves, tried desperately to save him, even going so far as to stick his hand into the alligator’s mouth to try and open the animal’s grasp on his son, but the powerful reptile was able to break free and swim away with Lane.

When Matt entered the water, he reported that another alligator tried to attack him as well, forcing him back to shore.

Alligator Snatches 2-Year-Old Boy From Lake At Disney Resort photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

Lane’s body was found by search-and-rescue officials the next day, and it was deemed that his death was caused by drowning and traumatic injuries.

The horrifying and heartbreaking story was unthinkable to many Americans, who view Disney World as a safe and magical haven for children of all ages.

grand floridian photo
Flickr | ScrapNancy

Disney’s Response

In the wake of Lane’s death, Disney has taken swift action to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Six alligators were taken out of the Seven Seas Lagoon and euthanized, and a stone wall was built around the lagoon to prevent any future alligator attacks.

And now, Disney has unveiled a lighthouse sculpture built in honor of Lane and his family.

The gold and blue lighthouse stands outside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (near Seven Seas Lagoon) and is decorated with two blue stars.

The Lane Thomas Foundation shared this beautiful shot of it on Aug. 7.

A Disney Passholder shared this shot of the lighthouse statue on Aug. 7 as well with the caption: “Little Lane’s lighthouse is finally complete. 🌷🌷”


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Remembering Lane Graves

In honor of his memory, his parents have also created the Lane Thomas Foundation, which offers financial support for children in need of organ transplants in Omaha, Nebraska (where the family is from).

Although Lane’s parents have bravely dealt with their unthinkable loss, their son is never far from their minds.

Last year, his mother, Melissa, shared these beautiful words about her son, “You’ll always be Mommy’s loving, sweet baby boy. When we were apart you would tell us, ‘I missed you’ as we walked through the door. You would always come running with a big hug and kiss. We miss you buddy and we miss those hugs and kisses. We all love you so very, very much.”

We wish the Graves family comfort and peace. To support the Lane Thomas Foundation, please visit their Facebook page.