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Family heartbroken after toy elephant with son's ashes inside vanishes during Disney trip

NewsFamily heartbroken after toy elephant with son's ashes inside vanishes during Disney trip

A heartbroken family has lost a toy elephant that contained their son’s ashes during a trip to Disney World in Florida, with his mother launching a “desperate” appeal on Facebook.

Gabryel Atkinson tragically died just before the trip of a lifetime having spent some time in intensive care after undergoing more than 50 surgeries and procedures.

He had a toy elephant named Bruce, which was given to him during his stay in hospital, with his mother Liz Atkinson saying he “slept with it every night”.

The US-based family kept the youngster’s ashes in a small bag, placed inside the pouch on Bruce’s back.

During the trip to Disney World in Florida, Gabryel’s grieving parents took the toy elephant and his ashes with them as they looked to pay homage to the young boy while also celebrating the birthday of their surviving son, Sebastyan.

READ MORE: Author who penned book on grief for children charged with husband’s murder

Ms Atkinson has launched a “desperate” appeal on Facebook to find the cuddly toy after realising it was no longer with them after returning home from their holiday.

The appeal, which was posted on the social media website three days ago, has been shared nearly 11,000 times and has received more than 800 comments.

The heartbroken mother said the memento, which the parents kept “in bed” with them before the trip, was nowhere to be seen after searching “everywhere” and “every bag”.

She said in her post on Facebook she feels “sick” and is “struggling to sleep” after the loss.

Ms Atkinson also listed the places the family travelled to and stayed at, adding she had phoned each of them and had also filled out a lost property page on Disney World’s website.

She does remember Bruce the toy elephant being with the on a Cocoa Beach parasailing excursion in Florida at around 9am on April 24, with Sebastyan holding the toy on the boat.

The grieving mother wrote in the social media post: “This is where the trip gets hazy in my memory due to emotions and grief. Thinking back, I don’t recall Sebastyan bringing him back to our vehicle.”

However, with help from the nearby Cocoa Beach Marina, Ms Atkinson now knows Bruce had made it to their car and onwards to their next destination of Disney Springs Resort.

She has come to the conclusion it was either at The Palazzo Hotel nearby or at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

The mum added: “Thank you to Adam at the Cocoa Beach Marina, we know Bruce made it into the car with Sebastyan after parasailing and was not dropped in the parking lot there.

“He would have made it to Disney Springs with us which we know he didn’t go into with us because he was not packed in the one bag we brought in. This means he either fell out in the orange parking ramp there, somewhere at the palazzo, or if he made it into AOA-potentially was mixed into bedding that was changed by housekeeping.

Ms Atkinson added: “I feel sick, struggling to sleep. I’m desperate.

“If you’ve found Bruce or saw him around any of these locations, please PM me!!! I need him back.”

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