What began as a fun family outing at the Pittsburgh Zoo soon turned into a nightmare. It’s one of the most awful stories we have ever read.
On November 4, 2012, Elizabeth and Jason Derkosh helplessly watched as their two-year-old son was mauled to death by a pack of wild African painted dogs.
The attack occurred in a 1.5 acre exhibit called the Painted Dog Bush Camp, where 11 incredibly predatory animals were housed.
When the parents visited the enclosure with their little boy Maddox, they had no idea what was about to unfold. Because he had poor vision, Elizabeth decided she would lift him up onto the 4-foot-tall wooden railing outside of the enclosure so he could see the dogs.
What happened next can only be described as absolutely horrifying. As she began to lift him up, Maddox lost his balance on the railing and fell 14 feet down into the exhibit. First he was caught by a safety net, but ended up bouncing off of it. Within seconds, he was attacked by 11 dogs.
His parents, along with other visitors, watched the entire thing happen. And there was nothing that they could do to help. Before Elizabeth even had the opportunity to react, her son was being torn apart.
It was reported that the mauling went on for approximately five minutes – though that must have felt like an eternity for everyone present at the time. Visitors described that those few minutes were filled with agonizing screams for help.
By the time help arrived, it was too late. Maddox was dead.
Witnesses claim Elizabeth attempted to jump over the railing to try and save her little boy but was restrained by others at the exhibit.
As you can imagine, after the gruesome incident both parents had to be medicated in order to deal with their grief.
A medical examiner later concluded that the boy was killed by the mauling, not the fall itself.
The boy’s parents later sued the zoo, claiming wrongful death, even though the zoo said his death was the mother’s fault. The lawsuit was settled confidentially for an undisclosed amount.
Maddox became the only visitor in the Pittsburgh Zoo’s 116-year history to die. It’s a moment that his parents will regret for a lifetime.