A 2 year old child was reportedly attacked and killed by a gator near Disney’s Grand Floridian hotel beach and dragged further into the Seven Seas Lagoon water. Cops allegedly killed at least five gators in the waters while searching for the child, though none appeared to be the one who attacked the child. According to reports, Disney has a wildlife management system which is supposed to prevent this type of incident, but somehow several gators remained in the water.
It is unfathomable that gators continued to live in the waters near where Disney guests played without warning guests.
It is apparent to those of us who investigate wrongful death claims based on the information available at this time that there was a possible procedural breakdown at Disney. The fact that there were at least six gators in water where resort guests can walk in or near, or even boat, is six too many. While employees may have been diligent in the past at keeping gators from accessing guest areas, something happened which could have possibly been prevented. Perhaps they became too relaxed? Understaffed? Lacked proper training and experience?
One of the most concerning aspects of the gator incident is that Disney has encouraged guests to use the beaches at the water’s edge, and even rented small boats to guests which kept guests just feet from the water as they boated throughout the lake. Kids often put their hands in the water or put faces close to the water to look for fish. There do not appear to be any adequately visible warning signs about gators. The resorts which boarder the lake where the child was attacked had beaches with lounge chairs provided by Disney. Gators come up on land, so where was the protection and notice?
If Disney knew there were gators in these waters, they never should have allowed guests to go on or near the waters. Even many parks in Florida have gator warning signs to prevent guests from going near water edges. Disney should have posted signs specifically stating that there were alligators in the water. Stating “Don’t Swim” is simply not enough. They may not have because they didn’t want to scare guests, but that is not an excuse for safety.
As Victim’s Rights Advocates, we need to figure out how this happened to make sure it never happens again. We question how the gator population was able to exist in waters near guests on Disney property, why there were no adequate warning signs about the gators, and why there are no barriers to prevent gators from accessing land near the resorts. If Disney did in fact have a wildlife management system in place, how were at least six gators swimming around the same lake where guests frequently sunbathe near or boat on?
Disney is a responsible company who should take the necessary precautions to make sure guests are safe in and around the lake.
Over the years, we’ve handled many personal injury cases against Disney on behalf of guests injured in their parks or resorts. Disney is quite often concerned about the safety and care of their guests. It is not surprising that the media reported that Disney was cooperating with authorities and offering support to the family. This Disney tourist accident may have been preventable. Hopefully the police and Disney will fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, look into the foreseeability and preventability of the incident, and do whatever is necessary to take care of this family for the rest of their lives.
I cannot imagine the horror and pain they must be going through. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
For more information about Jason Turchin, or for comment or contact, visit www.victimaid.com or call (954) 515-5000.