Pittsburgh Zoo Blames Mother For Tragic Death Of Her 2-Year-Old Boy

Thu, September 12, 2013 1:50pm EDT by 29 Comments
Pittsburgh Zoo Death
Courtesy Photos

A darling little boy died in a tragic accident at the Pittsburgh Zoo after his mom held him up on the railing and he fell into a pit of wild dogs. After the terrible ordeal, the boy’s family sued the zoo for damages, and now the zoo says the mother’s to blame!

Maddox Derkosh, 2, was killed by wild African dogs after falling into their enclosure at the Pittsburgh Zoo in Pennsylvania on Nov. 4, 2012. The zoo has determined that Maddox’s mother, Elizabeth Derkosh is responsible for her son’s tragic death, and that she should not be allowed to sue for damages.

Pittsburgh Zoo Death — Boy’s Mauling Is Mother’s Fault

The Pittsburgh Zoo claims that Maddox’s mother put her son in danger when she lifted him up to stand on a 4 foot tall railing to see the painted African dogs exhibit.

After hitting the zoo with a lawsuit for damages after their son’s death, the zoo is responding by saying that the Derkosh family is to blame.

In a court filing, the zoo said the tragic accident was “caused solely by the carelessness, negligence and/or recklessness of Elizabeth Derkosh,” reports The Daily Mail.

“The zoo’s position is dead wrong and shameful,” the family’s attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, said in a statement on Sept. 11. He also explained that the boy wore glasses and had vision problems, which is why his mother held him up on the railing to see the dogs better. The mom was not charged following the accident.

2-Year-Old Boy Mauled By Wild Dogs After Falling Into Zoo Exhibit

The boy fell 14 feet down into the exhibit, but it was determined that he died from the injuries he sustained after the dogs pounced on him — not the fall itself. Though zoo workers tried desperately to tear the dogs off of him, they could not. “Very unfortunately, in this situation, the dogs were doing what the dogs would normally do,” Zoo President Dr. Barbara Baker said during a press conference from the Pittsburgh Zoo on Nov. 5.

“We discourage people from letting their children sit on the railing … this is a horrible, horrible tragedy —  but the zoo has been here since 1898, and this is the first time we’ve had any type of visitor injury,” she said at the time.

What do YOU think of this outcome, HollyMoms?

WATCH: Pittsburgh Zoo Blames Mother Of Boy Who Died In African Painted Dogs Exhibit

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More Pittsburgh Zoo Incident News:

  1. Child Killed By African Dogs At Zoo Died In Several Agonizing Minutes
  2. Child Mauled To Death By 11 African Dogs At Pittsburgh Zoo
  3. Mom Of Toddler Killed By Wild Dogs Won’t Be Prosecuted

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happy1

Posted at 4:56 PM on July 13, 2014  

Yes, this story still bothers me too….I know the mother was just trying to do something nice for her child by lifting him up to see better, but I just can’t fathom lifting your child up at such a dangerous area. If she lifted him up but was standing 3 or 4 feet back from the railing, he would have been able to see and wouldn’t have been in danger. It was a tragic error in judgment that I’m sure she wishes every day she could take back. I know the suit against the zoo was something that angered most people, including me, but she probably was just trying to relieve herself of the anguish by convincing herself that the zoo was responsible. I don’t know how she survived beyond this horrific tragedy, or how and if her marriage will survive. That husband has to have some bitterness toward her, it would be only human.

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van

Posted at 2:06 PM on June 2, 2014  

I would have jumped in!! Omg this is old news but it still bothers me to this day :-(

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Dana

Posted at 5:31 PM on May 15, 2014  

Hope she is haunted by her son every miserable day of her life..

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Leann

Posted at 11:48 PM on April 26, 2014  

Not only were there signs every where NOT to stand on the railings but several zoo employees told her to get her son down. I love the Pittsburgh zoo and I take my kids there all the time and even though my youngest is 10 I’ve never put him in such a dangerous situation as this. If he can’t see an animal I take a picture for him and show him that way with him safely on the ground. I definitely don’t believe she should benefit from his death like this, and why so much?

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Damn!

Posted at 3:10 PM on February 23, 2014  

The parent is the protector. Even if my kid has vision problems I would not put him on a railing so he can see better.
She needs to take responsibility. She didn’t think he would fall but she made a bad decision.
She should not reap any rewards for putting her child in a position where he was killed by wild animals.

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John

Posted at 7:26 PM on February 4, 2014  

Why didn’t the mother go in after him??

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Damn!

Posted at 3:11 PM on February 23, 2014  

@John, she didn’t want to get chewed up too.
Had it been me I would’ve gone in right behind him.
I’d rather get killed before I let my kid get killed.

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unclelink

Posted at 9:37 PM on November 23, 2013  

The woman knowingly took her child to a zoo with dangerous animals and owing to her own negligent/reckless behaviour resulted in an accident that claimed her child’s life then want to hold the zoo responsible?! She should be arrested and prosecuted for criminal negligence of a child.I wonder how Judge Judy would handle this case?

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Viv

Posted at 12:12 PM on October 24, 2013  

This woman put her child up on a dangerous ledge, now she is going to turn around and be a millionaire!!!! NO WAY!!! She should be in prison!!!!

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lily

Posted at 3:42 PM on September 18, 2013  

Parents make mistakes. If you are or have been parents, you know how many mistakes you made. A child can be very unsteady and can slip though your grab. The parents have not been changed for accidentally drowning their baby in the bath tab so should not be charged for left up the child on the railing. I doubt the woman would intentionally drop her only son into wild dogs. When a woman gave birth on her early 30th, it is hard for her to give up her only son. If there was any evident of murder, the police would charge her for sure. I believe she was punished enough by watching her son to die in such horrific mauling. The mom could not foresee the accident and has not realized the danger. No all the people have the same sense so the zoos should protect the public from themselves. Zoo staff should have seen all kind of parents have been putting their kids on the railing in the past, and then this type of accident would happen eventually. For the zoo, it is foreseeable and preventable by doing above and beyond. If the zoo wins this case, wait to see what else would happen in the zoo and what else can be blamed on visitors. I am glad that our city zoo has a really tall metal fence that you have no way to throw anything/anyone into the wolf enclosure. There are only 2-3 wolves in our zoo enclosure. I bet the mom or others will jump in if there are only 2-3 dogs in that enclosure. Even a large size man will not be able to fight with 11 dogs so the woman jumps in might not have any use but to dead with her son. It might be her thought every day now but a lawsuit might keep her going. My prayers are with the family and wish no one has to die in such accident.

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daerius

Posted at 10:50 PM on September 18, 2013  

What a bunch of malarkey! The zoo is NOT responsible for preventing EVERY eventuality. Anyone with a shred of common sense would tell you that! Places of business are held accountable for “reasonably” protecting their clientele! The zoo did just that!!! The zoo, and for that matter ANY business, cannot and should not be held accountable for the outright stupidity and blatant disregard for safety that this mother showed with this incident! That is why THEY weren’t brought up on charges either! And really?! “a lawsuit might keep her going”?! GIVE ME A BREAK LADY! A lawsuit will line her greedy, disgusting, money-grubbing pockets. That is all! Any person who sues after a case like this is NOT filled with remorse. They are filled with GREED! Personally, I find it appalling that you, or anyone, could defend this woman’s actions. I am morally outraged at this woman’s audacity, her stupidity, and her blatant disregard for her own child’s life. Her lawsuit doesn’t do anything except cheapen her child’s death. It is repugnant and so is she!

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Michael Taylor

Posted at 4:52 PM on September 19, 2013  

I agree with Daerius. Lily, no offense, but that may be the stupidest line of reasoning that I have ever read. If you are too dumb to know its a bad idea to hold your squirmy toddler over a pen full of wild dogs, you are too dumb to be a parent and I pity your children. Additionally, it wouldn’t matter how many dogs there were, if my kid fell in the pen I would jump in and beat those dogs with my bare hands until they got me too. How can the parents of this sweet little boy even be thinking of money? I would be so consumed with grief and regret that I couldn’t think of anything else. I am totally blown away that you are defending them and frankly its scary that there are people in the world who would.

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happy1

Posted at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2014  

If you can rewrite that in English maybe I will understand what it is you are trying to say…

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Chasity

Posted at 5:18 PM on September 14, 2013  

I feel the mother is fully to blame. What mother puts there child in that position. Knowing you came to see wild animals. And when he child fell in she didn’t even attempt to try and go in there to save her baby. She needs to be charged.

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me

Posted at 2:42 PM on September 14, 2013  

Poor little boy knowing as he died from his mom lifting up on the railing and getting eaten up by the wild dogs she should have thrown herself after him and let herself get torn up while she protected him.

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Sam

Posted at 2:45 PM on September 13, 2013  

She should have known better, and the zoo should be required to post signs or something of the sort. Why couldn’t she have held him to see them? I’m sorry, but any parent knows how unstable toddlers are on their feet.

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Patricia

Posted at 12:15 PM on September 13, 2013  

Well I guess that`s one way to kill your child and not be accounted for it. If she didn`t want him give him away not kill him. Stupid, stupid woman.

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Michelle

Posted at 2:13 AM on September 13, 2013  

100% the mothers fault! What on earth was she thinking? If he has sight problems…There are ther exhibits to go look at it. Stupid mother

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B.T.

Posted at 12:31 AM on September 13, 2013  

“The dingo ate your baby.”

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kendra

Posted at 11:54 PM on September 12, 2013  

What an imbecile! How can that lawyer even defend them with a straight face?!?! Their argument is laughable! SO WHAT if he had vision problems?? If he can’t see the dogs safely, then move on! At least he would be alive today! I have no time for people that are this stupid! Her stupidity cost this precious boy his life! ABSOLUTELY she should be charged! I would give my right arm to see her take responsibility for her actions instead of blaming the zoo.

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gigi

Posted at 9:29 PM on September 12, 2013  

I feel so sad for that boy, can you imagine seeing a 2year old fall down and into wild dogs, the screams of pain and wanting his mother. i just can’t believe it. i agree she should have not put her child on the rail, how was she holding him? and she was not holding him hard enough.

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marie

Posted at 3:18 PM on September 12, 2013  

This is so sad, but it is the mothers fault that the child was killed. We go to the zoo to see wild animals they are put behind the fence for a reason……

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STARS FRIEND

Posted at 2:58 PM on September 12, 2013  

There are reasons there are railings and rules. If he had vision problems…should have moved on to next exibit. She was the adult here. I feel sorry, but the zoo IS NOT TO BLAME!

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Jackie

Posted at 2:41 PM on September 12, 2013  

It was a horrific tragic event. Clearly it is the mother’s “fault”. It’s understandable that she is unwilling to accept responsibility for her son’s death. She must be going through some intense feelings of guilt, anger at herself, and sadness beyond belief. It would internally give her a feeling of being at ease if the court were to find her innocent of such a preventable and painful death of her son.

As a mother I am guilty of lifting my young children to get a better view of the animals. However, I have not even thought of doing it again since this event came into the public eye. It’s sad, but the death of her son has taught many people a lesson about safety.

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Steve Jones

Posted at 2:24 PM on September 12, 2013  

I agree but it is not necessary that it could be happen due to these things so according to me this could be occur due to some other reason now above already shoe about some zoo claim.

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Jamie

Posted at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2013  

She IS responsible.

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Tom Bohley

Posted at 2:07 PM on September 12, 2013  

Sorry, but the zoo is absolutely correct. The mother had NO business lifting her child over the safety railing, ESPECIALLY a 2 year old! What kind of idiot does that? And then she wants to sue in order benefit from her son’s death? A death for which she is directly responsible?! Really? I find that disgusting and immensely disturbing. It is the zoo’s responsibility to put in place reasonable protections. They did so. It is NOT their responsibility to protect people from their own stupidity! As a side note, if I placed my child in that situation, my immediate response would be to jump in after him to protect him. The fact that this idiot placed her child in jeopardy, failed to protect her child from a pack of wild dogs, and then demands to be compensated monetarily from the whole incident, is outrageously disgusting. She should be in jail for child endangerment, not being rewarded for her obscene behavior!

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*-* Bad Kitty

Posted at 2:29 PM on September 12, 2013  

My thoughts exactly ! That dingy b*tch !!

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kendra

Posted at 11:57 PM on September 12, 2013  

She should be put in jail for homicide. Her actions caused his death.

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