It has indeed been a very tragic and sad week in Central Florida. First, I, and the entire AllEars team send love, strength, prayers and support to everyone affected by the recent events.
This is not meant to be an exact accounting of everything that has happened. It is meant to alert our readers to three tragic events that happened in Central Florida.
You may know that on Friday night, June 10, a man shot and killed "The Voice" singer Christina Grimmie while she signed autographs after her concert. Horrible, senseless violence. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and fans.
Then, there were the horrendous mass killings at the Pulse nightclub in the early morning of Sunday, June 12. This is a tragedy beyond belief and I still don't have coherent words. To bring it even closer to our "home," the news has reported that the gunman scoped out parts of Walt Disney World, including Disney Springs. (For an official accounting of what transpired, read the national and Central Florida news websites, which have documented everything.)
As if that wasn't enough, on Tuesday night, June 14, a toddler was suddenly attacked and killed by an alligator on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian Resort. (You can read an official accounting of exactly what happened on the national and Central Florida news websites.) It appears that the family was on the beach watching the nightly Movie Under the Stars. According to reports, they were at the water's edge and the 2-year-old was ankle-deep playing in the water. An alligator jumped out of the water and grabbed the boy, dragging him under the water and carrying him away. Hours of search and rescue efforts, followed by search and recovery, ensued. The boy's body was recovered the next day. I can't even imagine what the family has been and will go through. All of us at AllEars.net send love, strength, prayers and support to the family.
Walt Disney World spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler gave a brief statement early Wednesday, saying, "Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident." She said Disney was doing everything possible to help the family and law enforcement. Disney is working closely with Florida's Fish and Wildlife Department. She added that the company also was conducting a "swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols."
All Disney resort beaches were closed and personal watercraft use has been suspended. The Walt Disney Company has said it will add alligator warnings to signs.
Update: Here is a photo of the new signs Disney will be posting :
There has been much discussion online as to whether Disney signage should have been more specific than it was, simply stating "No Swimming". People who live in Florida are very aware of the presence of alligators. They were here long before us. They are able to move from body of water to body of water over land. Someone told me long ago if you are in Florida and there is a body of water, there is a good chance it has a gator. I have watched one cross the street where I live. I know not to go near the water's edge at night. Even during the day, out walking in my community, I am very alert to my surroundings, as we have lots of lakes and ponds.
At the same time, I understand the family from Nebraska probably had no idea about the danger of alligators in Florida.
I have started writing a new page for AllEars talking about the wildlife in Central Florida -- in addition to alligators, we have venomous snakes -- in the hope that folks will become a bit more aware of potential dangers, even when under the magical spell of Disney.
Be kind to the cast members and residents of Central Florida this week. Be kind to each other. Nothing could have prepared anyone for the tragedies we've suffered in these last several days.