PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Allegheny County District Attorney said he will not pursue criminal charges against a woman whose son was killed at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium earlier this month.
However, District Attorney Stephen Zappala said he is investigating possible criminal negligence against the Zoo.
Maddox Derkosh, 2, had vision problems and wore glasses. That’s part of the reason why Zappala says his mother held him up over a railing at the African Painted Dog exhibit.
“The mom picks up the child, has the child by the waist; in almost one motion as the child is elevated,” Zappala said. “The child moves forward with both hands and his face; mom loses control of him.”
The incident happened Nov. 4. Once the 2-year-old fell into the exhibit, the District Attorney says he was dead within seconds.
He also confirmed he will not pursue any sort of charges against the boy’s mother.
“I haven’t found anything that would indicate that any crime has been committed by the mother,” said Zappala.
The District Attorney says he is concerned about a memo obtained by the KDKA Investigators from the Pittsburgh Zoo from late October, saying: “We will no longer have a security guard on the property from 7:00am-3:00pm.”
The zoo says that memo only pertains to Monday through Friday, and that a guard was there the day of the accident.
The district attorney is still concerned.
“Yeah, it is an issue because what you’re talking about is an agency that invites people on the premises, and they put you in proximity to very dangerous animals,” said Zappala. “And you get paid for it; you know, we pay to go to the zoo. You owe a duty to the public and you owe a duty to these families.”
Zappala says the investigation into Maddox Derkosh’s death is underway. He says the outcome could vary from changes in the structure at the zoo to the possibility of criminal charges.
“If you’re talking crimes that would be reviewed, criminal negligence, manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children,” Zappala said.
Derkosh was killed when he fell into the African Painted Dogs exhibit at the zoo and was mauled by the animals.