Real Life

Parents of toddler killed by alligator at Disney World speak out for first time

They made the heartbreaking statement on what would have been his third birthday.

The parents of Lane Graves, who was killed by an alligator in June at Disney World Orlando, have spoken out publicly for the first time.

Matt and Melissa Graves, who have been privately grieving over their lost child, have made a public statement on what would've been the boy's third birthday.

Friends, family and neighbours gathered to celebrate Lane on Saturday, where Melissa gave a heartbreaking speech honouring her baby boy.

“Happy birthday, Laney. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to speak, but my baby, I owe it to him to honour him, so his mommy needed to say happy birthday, Laney,” she said while holding back tears.

“You are in our hearts today and every second of every other day. You will always be mummy’s loving, sweet baby boy.

“When we were apart you would tell us ‘I missed you’ as we walked through the door. You would always come running with a big hug and kiss. We miss you buddy and we miss those hugs and kisses. We all love you so very, very much."

Lane’s father Matt also spoke tearfully at the event, where guests were asked to wear blue in Lane’s memory.

"Today Lane would have turned three years old but we celebrate his first birthday in heaven with the community that has surrounded us with love and support. Melissa and I often speak of how lucky we were to have spent two years, 11 months and 11 days as a complete family,” he said.

"My wife would tell you those were the happiest days of her life and I couldn't agree more," he said. "What I'm also confident about is that our faith has lifted us up as we fight every day to find peace.

"We would not have been able to get through the pain without this community, our friends and family and for that we say thank you," he said. "There really is no place like Nebraska. Happy birthday, buddy. We miss you LT."

Lane was snatched by an alligator after stepping into shallow water at Disney’s Seven Seas Lagoon. After teams scoured the area, Lane's body was discovered.