PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For those who were also at the African Painted Dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium on Sunday, the death of a 2-year-old boy was an unimaginable sight. One they will never forget.

One horrified father who was with his family, felt completely helpless as he watched the boy fall and zoo personnel arrive.

“It was a gruesome sight. It was scary,” said the man who didn’t want to be identified. “It didn’t look like it was planned, but they were either throwing shovels or rakes. I saw one throwing a stick. Eventually, I saw one woman come up on crutches and she was shooting the tranquilizer darts.”

The father was watching the scene unfold when he saw another bystander attempt to rescue the boy.

“I did see one guy when I was going toward the gazebo, stick his leg over,” he told KDKA’s Marty Griffin. “That was before I got there and saw what I saw. He pulled his leg back right away. That’s when I got over there and I could see the boy.”

Zoo officials say workers could not immediately go into the enclosure. The animals were too dangerous. Witnesses were frustrated.

“I’m very upset because I felt like the zoo should have had someone in earshot with a radio for them to react to the situation with the right people who could have got the dogs away from the kid,” the witness said.

Zoo officials say they had the right people and it was not possible to save the boy. It happened too fast. But this witness says the boy was still alive after he fell.

Witness: “His arms were up over his head. His arms were up the way you would if you were… Thats the way I remember it.”

Marty Griffin: “Trying to protect himself?”

Witness: “Yes.”

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