Mom Will Not Be Charged in Zoo Mauling Case

2-year-old Maddox Derkosh of Whitehall was killed in early November.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office will not pursue criminal charges against Elizabeth Derkosh, the mother of the late Maddox Derkosh, who was killed in a tragic mauling accident at the Pittsburgh Zoo in early November.

However, according to KDKA, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. is investigating a possible criminal negligence charge against the zoo.

Elizabeth and 2-year-old Maddox, both of Whitehall Borough's Highgrove Road, were visiting the zoo on Nov. 4 when Maddox fell from the top of a platform railing to the ground inside of the pit area of an African painted dogs exhibit, according to a statement from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

Pittsburgh police said that the child lost his balance after his mother lifted him in a standing position onto the 4-foot-high wooden railing that overlooks the enclosure. He was then mauled to death by the dogs.

KDKA reports that Zappala has specifically criticized zoo security, training and zoo officials' response to the accident.


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Jill November 28, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Thank God!!! Is poor woman has paid enough!!! Her dear heart is broken and will be broken forever!!!! Thoughts and prayers to the family!!! Rest in peace, Maddox!!
NE12Ukid November 28, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Maddox will not rest in peace until all parties move on from this tragedy. Zappala's plan to charge the zoo is just going to keep it going and going, and bring out painful details of the mother's tragic mistake.
Cathy November 28, 2012 at 10:24 PM
I'm glad it was investigated and ruled as a tragic accident. I think the zoo is going to have to protect themselves and start making these fences 12 feet high with netting across the entire top of exhibit. Charging the zoo and it's officials, is not going to help this matter. Lets learn from this lesson. Not everyone has common sense and all exhibits will need to be looked at through glass or bars.
cc November 28, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Yes it was a tragic accident and hope parents learn also to know put their children on the top of a platform instead of holding them in your arms.. I feel bad for the innocent child who lost his life.
20 Year Resident of Baldwin/Whitehall November 29, 2012 at 12:59 AM
I'm very relieved that this family will now be able to move past this tragic event and grieve for their child. I hate that charges against the zoo are even being discussed. It's time to move on so that the healing can begin.
cc November 29, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I don't want to see the zoo face charges either, it was an accident because a child was placed up on top of a platform without being held.
hus4154 November 29, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Charging the zoo for this accident is like charging New York City for 911.
Margaret French November 29, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Bob- did you know there is going to be a Memorial Vigil for him in January up at the park off of Fieldcrest?
Robert Edward Healy, III November 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I heard something about that. Can you give more details?
Margaret French November 29, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Copied and pasted from facebook: Maddox Derkosh Memorial Vigil Public Event · By Kristin Nock Overlook Park in Whitehall VIGIL INFORMATION When: Monday, January 21st Time: 7pm to ? Where: Overlook Park in Whitehall. ***PARKING IS VERY LIMITED!!!*** DIRECTIONS: Grove Rd. to Spring Valley Dr. Left on Fieldcrest Dr. Park driveway is on right after 4th house on Fieldcrest Dr. Parking is limited to on street parking. Vehicles cannot be taken up driveway to park area.
Margaret French November 29, 2012 at 03:13 PM
According to the invites, 301 said they are going and 235 said maybe.
Sandra November 29, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I saw a zoo employee interviewed on the news this morning. He said that he saw parents propping their children up in that same exact spot at least 10 times daily. He brought the issue up to the zoo's management and they told him that it's not his job to worry about it.
Margaret French November 29, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I saw that too Sandra. They told him "It's not your concern. Get back to work." That is what the guy said on KDKA last night.
NE12Ukid November 29, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Yes, that was reported yesterday on the evening and late news. One man's interpretation IMO, and possibly exaggerated, maybe, maybe not. I wish they would just let this family have some peace. The mother made a terrible mistake with the most tragic of consequences. At least now others will hopefully learn to not lift little ones up on a fence top that is specifically slanted inwards to deter such behavior. When I took kids to the zoo, I always told them the first rule was NO CLIMBING, and to back up because sometimes you get a better view that way (wide angle) instead of having to get CLOSER all the time; and taught them that the animals were living their lives, not performing for us, so you had to hunt for them, and great if you could spot them. And that you were not going to get a 100% close up view of every animal; its a big zoo, plenty to see. Of course a tiny toddler would not be expected to adhere to all this on his own. Unfortunately in this case, the mom had not learned these lessons, and tragedy occured. As was pointed out in that news story this exhibit had passed numerous safety inspections. I still hope they just let the child rest in peace, and move on.
Matt A. November 30, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I have a subscription for the zoo and we go a few times a month and many of parents sit their children on ledges to get a closer look at the animals. I have seen zoo staff walk over to parents and ask them to take their children off the ledges only to be ignored by the parents or be told they want their child to have a closer look at the animals and nothing will happen. Hope all parents realize that tragedy can happen anywhere and at anytime and it is our responsibility to keep children safe as the child is to young to realize this on his own. I pray for the boy who lost his life at no fault of his own. I hope the zoo isn't charged in this as they have passed many safety test. If they are charged, I know I won't be buying any more passes to take my grandchildren to the zoo. I can just as easy purchase a pass for the Museum or Science Center and take my grand children there.
Margaret French December 03, 2012 at 05:55 PM
FYI everyone. The above mentioned vigil has been cancelled.
Robert Edward Healy, III December 03, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Thank you for this update, Margaret. Everyone, this cancellation news has been confirmed through the Facebook group that was helping to organize it.
Lisa December 03, 2012 at 06:09 PM
"If they are charged, I know I won't be buying any more passes to take my grandchildren to the zoo." How does punishing the zoo further by not buying passes help? My understanding is that you are saying it's not the zoo's fault, so if some one else decides to press charges, your response is to further hurt the zoo financially by withholding future financial support? I would think the opposite would be in order. Perhaps I am misinterpreting?
Margaret French December 03, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Lisa-I didn't understand that comment either so it isn't just you. It doesn't make sense to me.
Margaret French December 03, 2012 at 10:20 PM
You're welcome Bob!
NE12Ukid December 04, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I agree, it was a very confusing comment, maybe the writer will come back and explain why he'd stop buying passes.
Kate December 05, 2012 at 01:06 AM
that is the real problem, lack of common sense - in an over 100 yr old zoo, no other tragic "accidents". so let's stop being a society that always places blame on someone else for our actions
Kate December 05, 2012 at 01:17 AM
I don't understand all the attention to the family - start an organization that helps train parents to have common sense. If you put a child in the middle of tracks so they can see the train better, don't blame the engineer that runs them over, and don't expect a memorial in your child's honor
NE12Ukid December 05, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I see your point, Kate, but I don't believe the parents are expecting any such thing. I think it is other people who come up with these ideas, because they are sorry such a thing happened, and they just want to do SOMETHING! I do agree that naming a park after this little one is not appropriate. IMO we should name parks, buildings, bridges, etc after people who have done something positive, not just victims of a horrible accident. But others apparently have a different view.
Bob and Jeanne December 05, 2012 at 02:01 PM
If it is true and a zoo employee did the RIGHT thing and reported actions that might lead to accidents to his/her boss, manager, zoo director and was told that it was not his business, not to concern himself/herself, that they would deal with it, etc. and nothing was ever done to make that area of the zoo where the dogs exhibit is and this tragic accident occurs ......... isn't that somewhat similar to the Penn State cover up where you had someone (McQueery) go to Paterno or the other stooges with their concerns and what he witnessed and NOTHING was done to stop the problem (in that case, rape).
NE12Ukid December 05, 2012 at 06:44 PM
There is one FORMER zoo employee who appeared on the tv news and says his version of what he remembers from when he worked there. May or may not be accurate. No it is not remotely like what happened at Penn STATE!


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