A mother is urging the armchair quarterbacks on social media to hold their criticism and “judge less” after a 2-year-old boy was dragged away and killed by an alligator at Disney World Tuesday night.
Jennifer Venditti posted a now-viral Facebook post, showing her son, Channing, playing near the water’s edge at the same spot where Lane Graves, 2, was dragged away to his death by an alligator. Channing was playing in the area less than an hour before Graves was taken, Venditti said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said on Wednesday that Graves’s body had been recovered, and his parents notified.
But, as Venditti noted, it could have been her child.
“I can’t imagine anyone could sleep knowing that the helicopter was searching for a missing child taken by an alligator. I can’t help but wonder if we played with him, did I talk to his mom,” she wrote alongside photos of Channing playing near the water.
Amid the torrent of online criticism directed at Lane’s parents for not being responsible, Venditti says it’s largely unwarranted.
“I’ve already seen posts criticizing the parents,” she wrote. “I can assure you alligators were not on my mind at all when Channing was in the water.”
“It’s a tiny beach, surrounded by pools, water slides, a restaurant and a fire pit. I can’t conceive that an alligator would be in such a busy, small space.”
Her advice to detractors is to “judge less, pray more.”
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, in a press conference on Wednesday, said the department found the boy’s body intact about 17 hours after the alligator snatched him. The parents were identified as Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Neb., and the family was vacationing at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando operated by Disney World.
“It is certainly not survivable at this point for him to have been submerged for that period of time,” he said in the press conference.
“The father entered the water and tried to grab the child,” he said, adding that “the mother may have also entered the water. So the parents diligently tried to get the child. They alerted a nearby lifeguard who was there in the area as well, but they were unsuccessful in that effort.
“Disney has operated here for 45 years and this has never happened here before,” added Demings. “Disney has a wildlife management system that is in place. It’s designed to remove any potential threats.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Nick Wiley said several alligators were pulled from the lagoon and killed.
Epoch Times has reached out to Venditti for comment.