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, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting.
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.