Deputies were searching for a child who was dragged into a lake by an alligator at the Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Bay Lake, Florida, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The 2-year-old was wading in the water along the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon just after 9 p.m. ET when he was attacked, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a news conference.
The family, visiting from Nebraska, was relaxing near the water's edge when witnesses said the boy was dragged into the lagoon by an alligator described as being anywhere from 4 to 7 feet long, according to Demings.
"The father actually went into the water to wrestle his son from the grips of the alligator," he said. The father suffered minor scratches on his hand, but was unsuccessful in getting his son back.
The mother also went into the water, but did not wrestle the gator -- she was trying to find her child, he said.
The family of four -- parents, the boy and his 4-year-old sister -- is on vacation from Nebraska, Demings said. They arrived Sunday.
"The sad reality of it is it's been several hours and we're not likely going to recover a live body," he said.
In excess of 50 law enforcement officers were currently searching for the child including, helicopters, sonar, marine units and an alligator trapper.
"As a father, as a grandfather we're going to hope for the best in these circumstances, but based upon my 35 years of law enforcement experience we know that we have challenges ahead of us at this time," Demings said.
Officials from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were also at the scene assisting in the search for the boy and the alligator.
"We're putting every effort into locating the child and trapping this alligator," FWC Officer Chad Weber said. "We'll be here with them until there's a resolution."
Baby pen was near water
The Reedy Creek Emergency Services call center first received a report about the attack at 9:16 p.m. ET.
The incident occurred on a sandy waterfront area outside the hotel near the Seven Seas Lagoon on the property.
Witnesses said the family was on the beach and the 4-year-old was in a play pen about 20 to 30 yards from the water on the sand, according to Demings.
He said there are "No Swimming" signs at the lagoon and no one else was in the water at the time of the attack besides the child.
This body of water is not for recreational swimming "likely for that very reason," the reason being alligators.
"This is Florida and it's not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water," he said.