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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Julia Farkas November 06, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I am sure that will happen anyways, because she needs to go to prison for homicide by negligence.
Julia Farkas November 06, 2012 at 12:09 AM
We are not cold hearted, we just don't feel sympathy for people who make fatal mistakes. If I would be cold hearted, I would not care for the boy that died and would not be on here chatting with you.
Robert Edward Healy, III November 06, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I very seldom will express my own opinions on this news site, but I feel compelled to say that those who do not feel sorry for the family, especially the mother, are terribly misguided.
JoAnn November 06, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I ache for little Maddox and my heart goes out to his Mom, Dad and family. :-'( Those of you pointing your finger and judging his Mom, remember 3 fingers are pointing back at you. Don't judge lest you be judged.
Theo November 06, 2012 at 12:47 AM
ABC news had a computer generated model of the events, and she did not have her hands on him. He was sitting there on the railing by himself. He couldn't have weighed over 25 pounds so it would have been easy for her to keep him from falling if she had him in her grip.
CW November 06, 2012 at 01:10 AM
TT - I agree with you completely. That poor Mom lost her beautiful baby & I'm sure is inconsolable. My heart aches for her. And Julia, by your remarks, I'm sure your mother ACCIDENTELY dropped you on your head a few times.., You need to go play in traffic...How's that for cold hearted...
Bill Antantis November 06, 2012 at 01:14 AM
So sick of people coming at people that blame her.....they are not being cold hearted or cruel...it was her fault I am sure when and if she recovers she would tell you that herself...A child died why do you think people are soo angry....wasnt the zoo's fault or the dogs....So blame is always placed and in this case rightfully so
Pam November 06, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I cannot believe the heartless people in this world making judgements about a family they know nothing about and a tragedy that they think they know everything about. The thoughts running through my head right now about them...but I'm not a complete and utterly cold hearted person so I will restrain myself from publicly posting every thought about them.
Bill Antantis November 06, 2012 at 01:16 AM
It isnt I dont feel sorry for her either...and not like she isnt gonna pay for the rest of her life but totally preventable
MJF November 06, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Yes, it was a horrible horrific error in judgment by the mother, to say the least. Perhaps even criminal? I don't know....but even still, she didn't want this to happen to the child. Anyone saying they don't feel sorry for her is a sick, callous individual with no hear.n I would ventre to say they aren't a parent either, I can't imagine a mother or father feeling nothing for the parent regardless how poor a choice was. WOW!
Michael Dobs November 06, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Patch: Remove the comment part of this article. There is nothing to discuss. Horrible accident. Some times accidents have someone to blame sometimes they don't, that's why they are accidents. Everybody is intitled to the own opinion. In this case discuss it behind your own closed doors. Right or wrong let the family grieve in peace.
Robert Edward Healy, III November 06, 2012 at 01:34 AM
People will continue to discuss this story in one medium or another. They are welcome to discuss it here. Comments will continue to be moderated.
Sarah November 06, 2012 at 03:20 AM
This mother will punish HERSELF for the rest of her life. She doesn't need strangers judging her now. So quickly things can happen with a toddler-- every mother knows that. We've all made poor decisions at one time or another- so sad that hers had to result in tragedy. For those being so unsympathetic toward this mother, remember-- Karma is a B**ch. It may be you some day that strangers are on here being so cold and unsympathetic to!!
daniel Hamilton November 06, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Sad and sorry, it was an accident. i HOPE the message comes through to these precious parents that many of us are praying for you and love you. Do not let guilt comes to all of us who grieve not destroy you. Do not listen to those voices, but feel, hear nad know our comfort and most of all the comfort of the great Comforter --God who comforts us in all our sorrows. To those of you who hate and judge that to him who shows no mercy,. there will be shown no mercy. (epistle of James). aGAIN, FAMILY: LOVE AND PRAYERS!!!
NE12Ukid November 06, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Yes, Bob, two sad stories. One, a baby dies in a horrible accident at the zoo, and the other a woman is shot to death; and in comments to both stories, people say awful things that are "misguided" in the very least.
Carol Knox November 06, 2012 at 01:36 PM
shame on you for leaving such a heartless comment. This was a tragic accident and you have no right to judge this poor mom. You were not there, so you have no idea what really happened.
Carol Knox November 06, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Oh my gosh, I can't believe you just said that...how cruel and heartless...this was a tragic accident...may God have mercy on you.
Margaret French November 06, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Well said Bob! God Bless little Maddox. RIP. My prayers are with him and his family.
cc November 07, 2012 at 05:14 PM
My prayers are with the family and the mother is going to have night mares of this for the rest of her life. People need to learn from this mistake the mom made. One day she will meet her maker and will answer to him
D. Gerst November 10, 2012 at 01:50 AM
just as we should all blame the mothers that gave birth to you and the other detached people bashing that poor family. This isn't a matter of who's to blame, it's about understanding the fact that this boys mother made a terrible choice just as all parents do at some point (unless they are a perfect father of 2 and coach like yourself), some more serious than others and in this case a horrific outcome to that mothers mistake. If any of you had an ounce of decency you would go out to buy a toy truck, take it to that mother and beg for her forgiveness.
Lucy November 10, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Carol, a tragic accident would be something happening beyond your control. I think people feel horrible for this boy to die like this but at the same time many of us are trying to wrap our brains around the fact that his own mother put him in that situation. The person who is supposed to protect him. A grown, adult mother who loves her tiny little 2 year old stands him on a ledge 14 feet wide open to a pit of dangerous dogs below. That is not an accident. Who DOES that? I would hold him in my arms but never stand him like that. Why? Because it's dangerous and he could fall. I feel bad for her but I am shocked at the complete and utter lack of common sense in this case. It astounds me actually.
Lucy November 10, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Who isn't letting them grieve? It's actually never been stated, and I don't know why because she either had a hold on him or she didn't. All I have read is that she stood him up and he somehow fell. News articles won't say how he fell. The issue though here is that he never, ever, ever ever should have been made to stand on the railing in the first place. An accident would be if the floor gave way and he fell, this mother intentionally stood her child on a railing in an open window that leads 14 feet down into a dog pit. How can you say that it was an accident? How does a 34 year old woman not know that you shouldn't put a baby up there? That's crazy. The fact that she had no qualms about doing that scares me. This was not a lapse in judgement. I am not perfect either but I do know I would never put a 2 year old on a railing like that. It's like letting him walk down a busy street, the danger in the situation is right in front of you, how do you not sense it?
Lucy November 10, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Wow TT, you are missing the point. It doesn't matter if she held him or not, it's the fact that he was up on the ledge. You arent' allowed to do that nor should anyone risk a child's life doing that. This wasn't an accident that she couldn't control as you have said. Isn't she the one that put him up there?? I'm pretty sure that has been verified. I feel sorry for this mother, she lost her son, but it was totally preventable. It's not like some unseen force took him from her. She put him there and I don't know how she could do that and not worry about him.
Lucy November 10, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I do feel for the parents, no one should have to go through that ever. At the same time though, are we not allowed to have an opinion about what happened? I am not pointing fingers I just can't understand what she was thinking. I think that most people are just as confused by her actions as I am. As a mother this story hurt me because I could never think of doing that. I'd be sick to my stomach if I had to set my child up there.
Lucy November 10, 2012 at 02:52 AM
So his mom didn't stand him on a ledge overlooking a dog pit? How did he get up there then? You also are saying people are heartless and judging but at the same time you want to say mean things about the posters. What is the difference. Until the news outlets tell us how he fell, I will withhold judging. But, would you set a small child on a ledge like that? I doubt it.
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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