Police Confirm Zoo Mauling Victim Was Whitehall Resident

Two-year-old Maddox's parents live on Highgrove Road.

The mauling death of a 2-year-old boy at the Pittsburgh Zoo on Sunday has shocked and saddened many area families. That is especially true in Whitehall Borough, as it turns out.

Whitehall police Chief Donald R. Dolfi confirmed on Monday that the victim's family lives in Whitehall. Maddox, the victim, is the son of Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh, of Highgrove Road, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting.

The Derkosh family has lived on Highgrove since December 2011, according to the Allegheny County Assessment Web page.

Maddox was visiting the zoo with 34-year-old Elizabeth when he 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.

"The child was caught by the safety netting below the railing," zoo CEO Barbara Baker said on Monday. "But from what we understand from witnesses, the child was so small he bounced twice, then fell into the pit. The netting caught him; it just didn't hold him."

Baker said that, according to the county medical examiner, the child did not die from the fall.

"The child was mauled by dogs," Baker said. "It happened so quickly. It happened, literally, in seconds. There was very little anyone could do."

Baker said that staff members arrived outside of the exhibit within seconds, but with 11 dogs inside, it was too dangerous for them to enter.

Baker said that zoo personnel were able to secure 10 of the dogs. The final dog, which exhibited aggressive and violent behavior, was shot and killed by police.


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cc November 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Why should any of us have to beg for her forgiveness. She made a terrible mistake when she sat her child there and wasn't holding on to him. I feel bad for her as she will have to live with this nightmare the rest of her life but I don't need her forgiveness.
cc November 10, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Yes it was preventable, I would of held the child in my arms to see the animals as I have done in the past. I would of never sat mine on a ledge.
Ken James November 11, 2012 at 04:39 PM
"this boys mother made a terrible choice just as all parents do at some point " What? Stop and think. Placing the child on the railing is one thing - NOT holding onto the child is another. However bad you feel for the mother, remember that child is DEAD. She easily could have grabbed the child IF SHE WAS PAYING ATTENTION. How could the child fall off the railing with the mother right there? It seems she not only wasn't holding the child, but she must not have even been watching!!!!!! Something just doesn't seem right here. She could even grab the child as it fell? How many feet must the child have fallen before it was not possible for the mother to reach down and grab her baby???? Something is not right here.
Brian G November 23, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Sick horrible people to chastise this woman. Her life is changed forever and my heart breaks for her and family. I look at my 2 year old son and trying to comprehend how she must feel is heartwrenching, watching her sweet little boy basically eaten alive and powerless to help. RIP little Maddox. What a tragic and horrifying way to go.
cellaj November 27, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Let me just say this I talked to the parents.they r grieving and everyone sayin they don't feel sorry for her.u will be judged by God.how many times have done something stupid as parents but for the grace of God our kids r still here.they have to take medicine....pray for them not judge them.u will be judged.


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