LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After searching through the night, rescue workers have not yet found a 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was dragged away by an alligator at a lake at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa on Tuesday night, officials said Wednesday morning.
“This is still a search-and-rescue operation,” Jeff Williamson, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, said at a news conference. “We are hoping for the best. Sometimes you get the worst, but we’re certainly hoping for the best.”
A search involving dozens of staff members from the sheriff’s office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Disney employees continued overnight, but so far “to no avail,” Mr. Williamson said. The boats taking part are equipped with sonar equipment and an alligator trapper, and a 10-member dive team is on standby.
“We’ve already taken four alligators and looked at four alligators and couldn’t find any evidence that they were involved,” Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said, adding, “They had to be euthanized to be analyzed.”
The attack occurred around 9:15 p.m. on the beach of the Seven Seas Lagoon at the resort, the county sheriff, Jerry L. Demings, said. The artificial lake, which is about 200 acres, is 14 feet deep in parts and feeds a series of canals that wind through the Disney complex. It lies across from Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park.
Jacquee Wahler, the vice president at the Walt Disney World Resort, said the resort had closed its beaches for now.
“Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident,” she said in an emailed statement. “Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement.”
Mr. Williamson expressed exasperation at reporters who suggested that officials might be preparing themselves for the worst. “At this particular point in time, we’re not focused on what the outcome’s going to be.” He added, “We’re focused on the here, the now, today.”
Asked how long the search would continue, Mr. Williamson said, “We’ll call it off when we call it off, but right now there’s been no discussion of that.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Sheriff Demings had expressed little hope that the boy had survived. “We’re not likely now to find a live body,” he said.
The boy was partly in the water at the edge of the lagoon with his mother, father and 4-year-old sister when the alligator pulled him away, the sheriff said.
“The father entered the water and tried to grab the child and was not successful in doing so,” Sheriff Demings said. He said the child’s mother may also have gone into the water to help. The father alerted a lifeguard, he said.
Mr. Williamson said the lifeguard on duty was “too far away, unfortunately.” The father “was able to get over there quickly and a struggle did ensue,” Mr. Williamson said, adding that the father “had minor lacerations to his arm.”
Neither the boy nor the four other members of the family, who had been visiting the Orlando area since Sunday, have been identified.
“Of course, they are very shaken up, extremely shaken up,” Mr. Williamson said, while emphasizing that he had not spoken directly to the family. “There are some pictures we’ve seen of a really beautiful, happy family.”
“It is simply heartbreaking,” he added. “There is no other way to say it.”
Sheriff Demings said that no such attack had been recorded at the lagoon before and that no “nuisance alligators” had been reported in the area recently. Mr. Wiley of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that alligator attacks were “not common at all.”
The governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, said he was praying for the family of a 2-year-old.
Alligators are widespread in lakes in Central Florida. In 2015, the area had its first reported fatal alligator attack since 2007. The body of a swimmer, James Okkerse, 61, of DeBary, Fla., was pulled from a lake in Volusia County, north of Orlando, and he was determined to have been attacked by a 12-foot alligator that was later shot and killed.
The county medical examiner found that the death of Mr. Okkerse, who had disappeared while swimming in Blue Spring State Park, was consistent with an alligator attack.
That same year, a 22-year-old man who law enforcement officials said was trying to avoid capture during a burglary was killed by an 11-foot alligator in Brevard County, east of Orlando. The man, Matthew Riggins, had drowned, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said, and his body showed signs of having been mauled. Divers from the sheriff’s office encountered an aggressive alligator that was trapped and killed.
The attack on the 2-year-old was the latest piece of grim news for the area, just days after a gunman declaring allegiance to the Islamic State carried out the worst mass shooting in United States history, killing 49 at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday.
On Friday night, Christina Grimmie, a former cast member of the reality TV singing competition “The Voice” and a viral YouTube star, was fatally shot after performing at a popular Orlando music venue.
“We’re doing our best to deal with all of the situations we have going on here,” Sheriff Demings said. “But our staff is very resilient, and tonight they’re very focused, if you will, on assisting this family.”