In June 2016, an alligator yanked a 2-year-old boy named Lane Graves into the water at a Walt Disney World resort. That was tragically the last moment Lane's parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, saw their son. Now, a little more than two years later, Lane Graves' grieving parents have welcomed another baby boy.
The couple, who are also parents to a daughter named Ella, welcomed Christian Lane Graves on Wednesday, People reported. His parents' choice to give him his brother's name as his middle name is so touching, and it will certainly bond the two boys, even though they will sadly never get to meet.
“Although we know the pain of losing Lane will never go away, we feel God has blessed our family with this precious miracle of life,” Matt and Melissa, who live in Nebraska, told ABC Action News in a statement. “We know Ella and Christian have their brother, Lane, watching over them as their guardian angel.”
When Lane passed away two years ago, his death was a national news story. Matt and Melissa have been able to remain under the radar since then, and they would like to continue to do so, despite appreciating everyone's support. “The love and support we continue to receive from so many is greatly appreciated, but we ask that our desire for privacy continue to be honored," Matt and Melissa told People on Thursday.
In mid-June 2016, Lane was playing in shallow water at the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, ABC News reported at the time. Matt frantically tried to save his son to no avail, and another alligator gashed his hands in the process, TIME added. Authorities searched the water for 16 hours, until Lane's body was found the following morning. Autopsy results confirmed that Lane's cause of death was "drowning and traumatic injuries," the official Orange County, Florida Twitter account confirmed that afternoon. Later that day, Matt and Melissa provided the following statement to ABC News:
Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son. We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time. To all of the local authorities and staff who worked tirelessly these past 24 hours, we express our deepest gratitude.
Within days of Lane's heartbreaking death, Matt, Melissa, and Ella established the Lane Thomas Foundation in their son's honor, NBC News reported at the time. "After the tragic loss of our beloved 2-year-old son, Lane Thomas, we have created the Lane Thomas Foundation to honor his memory," the couple said in a statement shared by NBC News. "Losing Lane has broken our hearts in the worst possible way. While there is no way to mend our hearts, we can do good work in his honor," reads the foundation's website.
In September 2017, Matt and Melissa announced the foundation's latest venture, which is financially helping the families of children who need organ transplants. The foundation works to cover families' non-medical bills during their stays at the Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Nebraska Medicine, People reported.
One year after Lane's death, in the summer of 2017, Walt Disney World unveiled a statue of a lighthouse (the symbol of the Lane Thomas Foundation) in Lane's memory, located near the spot where he died, Good Housekeeping reported. "Presented to the Lane Graves Foundation. A beacon of hope. A light of love," reads the statue, according to The Tampa Bay Times. The newspaper also added that Walt Disney World has since put up signs warning patrons about alligators in the water, as well as a barrier around the water.
Lane's death was so incredibly devastating for his family, and it's wonderful that they are keeping his memory very much alive through the foundation and his new baby brother.