Nov 28 A prosecutor declined to bring criminal
charges against the mother of a 2-year-old boy who was killed
after falling into a pit of wild dogs and mauled at the
Pittsburgh Zoo, but he said on Wednesday he was still
determining whether the zoo was at fault.
"I haven't found anything to indicate any crime was
committed by the mother," Allegheny County District Attorney
Stephen Zappala told a news conference. He called the death a
Maddox Derkosh was killed almost immediately after he fell
over the railing of an exhibit of African painted dogs and was
attacked by 11 of the animals.
His mother, Elizabeth Derkosh, 34, had lifted him on top of
the railing to give the boy with poor eyesight a better view.
Holding him by the waist, she lost control, Zappala said. The
child may have believed there was a Plexiglas barrier as he
appeared to lunge forward, the prosecutor said.
Zookeepers rushed to the exhibit area housing the animals,
firing darts to frighten them away, but it was too late. One dog
that was particularly aggressive was killed.
Zappala said he was still investigating whether the
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium might be culpable of negligence,
manslaughter or endangering welfare of children because of the
design of the exhibit.
"I have reached one conclusion and that is we are going to
work together, with the zoo and with these administrative and
regulatory agencies, and we're going to do as best we can to
prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again," Zappala
African painted dogs are endangered and native to
sub-Saharan Africa, according to the National Geographic
They are also known as Cape hunting dogs because of their
mottled coats with patches of red, black, brown, white and
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)