The parents of a toddler killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World said Wednesday they do not plan to sue the resort.
Matt and Melissa Graves will focus on "the future health of our family" and establish a charitable foundation to honor their son Lane, they said in a statement.
Asked whether Disney had contributed to the fund, spokeswoman for the family Sara Brady referred questions to the company.
Disney World provided a statement from president George Kalogridis saying "in the wake of this tragic accident we continue to provide ongoing support for the family." Disney did not provide further details.
An alligator snatched 2-year-old Lane along the shoreline of the Seven Seas Lagoon last month. Matt Graves fought the gator in an unsuccessful attempt to save his son, who was not found until 16 hours later. The Nebraska family, including a 4-year-old daughter, had been staying at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
"We know that we can never have Lane back, and therefore, we intend to keep his spirit alive through the Lane Thomas Foundation," the Graves family said. "It is our hope that through the foundation we will be able to share with others the unimaginable love Lane etched in our hearts. In addition to the foundation, we will solely be focused on the future health of our family and will not be pursuing a lawsuit against Disney. For now, we continue to ask for privacy as we focus on our family."
It is likely Disney made a substantial contribution to the fund "just because it's such a tragic circumstance," University of Florida law professor Lyrissa Lidsky said. "Just in terms of Disney's reputation and the signal they want to send about being compassionate for the family's loss, I would certainly think they would want to contribute."
A lawsuit would also have done even more damage to Disney's reputation from the tragedy, legal experts said. However, it also would have been emotionally draining for the family, Lidsky said.
"I would think by far this is the best resolution for everyone involved," Lidsky said. "Going through the trial process can be highly psychologically traumatic for the litigants."
Matt Graves said in the statement that "Melissa and I are broken. We will forever struggle to comprehend why this happened to our sweet baby, Lane. As each day passes, the pain gets worse, but we truly appreciate the outpouring of sympathy and warm sentiments we have received from around the world."
After Lane's death, many tourists came forward with stories of their own alligator sightings at Disney. Last week, emails revealed firefighters at Disney had been admonished for feeding alligators on the property a couple months before Lane's death. Disney has since made many changes including roping off access to waterfront areas. It has also installed warning signs about alligators.
Matt Graves, an executive with a data and marketing company, and his wife first announced the Lane Thomas Foundation a week after their son's death. Brady did not provide details about what causes the fund would support.
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