Woman Whose Son Played at Same Spot as Lane Graves 1 Hour Before Gator Snatched Him Urges Prayer for Family
A mother who says her young son was playing in the same spot where 2-year-old Lane Graves was snatched and killed about an hour later by an alligator at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando, Florida, last Tuesday is now urging prayers for the boy's family.
In a post that has since gone viral, Jennifer Venditti shared photos on Facebook of her son, Channing, wading into the water at the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Disney resort in response to members of the public who have raised concerns about Lane Graves' parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, allowing him to play in the water by himself.
Venditti explained that she did the same thing with her son because she assumed it was safe.
"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. #judgelesspraymore," Venditti urged at the end of a post in which she expressed heartfelt grief about the Graves' loss last Wednesday.
"PRAY, PRAY so hard for the family and for those who witnessed this tragic event. I took these pics at the exact spot this happened between 8 and 8:30 p.m., the incident happened at 9. Helicopters flew overhead until 1 a.m. and were back around dawn. I can't imagine anyone could sleep knowing that the helicopter was searching for a missing child taken by an alligator," wrote Venditti. "I can't help but wonder if we played with him, did I talk to his mom? How does one go home without your baby in tow? I've already seen posts criticizing the parents."
The Graves family were in the third day of their vacation at the Grand Floridian when little Lane was snatched as he played in about a foot of water at the Seven Seas Lagoon at the resort.
Police say the boy's father tried to save him but the alligator was too powerful for him.
"The father entered the water, and he tried to grab the child, but was not successful in doing so," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters.
Melissa also rushed into the water to try to save the boy, according to USA Today. When they were unable to recover him, the couple alerted a nearby lifeguard who called 911. The father received minor injuries to his hand.
As most people celebrated Father's Day on Sunday, Venditti explained in another post that the events of the last week have left an indelible impression on her.
"A week ago I was on a plane headed to the Grand Floridian. I had no idea within 48 hours a terrible tragedy would ensue. As I sit here today celebrating Father's Day and my baby girl's birthday. My heart absolutely aches for the Graves family and all others who suffered indescribable loss this week. My life will get back to normal this week, while others will have a new 'normal.' I learned more this week than any other week in my 41 years. I've SEEN life change in literally 1 blink. I've learned every second, of everyday is a GIFT, use it wisely," she said.
"I've learned from complete strangers that just a few kind words can help you get through the toughest of times. I have received 1000s of heartfelt messages from supportive moms. ... I have also seen a dark side of people who want to JUDGE at a time of tragedy. To those people I pray light will shine through to you. I pray you are not faced with something as heart breaking as what the Graves are going through. #judgelesspraymore #tragedydoesntdiscriminate," she added.
Lane Graves is expected to be buried after a funeral in Nebraska on Tuesday.