It's difficult to think of any punishment that would be worse than what the mother of a 2-year-old boy who was mauled to death at the Pittsburgh Zoo already is experiencing.
Maddox Derkosh died last Sunday after falling from a wooden railing on a deck overlooking an exhibit of African painted dogs. The boy reportedly bounced off netting in front of the railing and fell into the exhibit where he was attacked by the dogs. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said the boy bled to death.
Police are unsure whether anyone will be charged.
The boy's mother had lifted the boy onto the railing to give him a better view before he fell.
From what has been released thus far, Maddox's death seems to have been a tragic accident, not an attempt to cause him harm. Barring other evidence, we don't know what a prosecution would accomplish.
We can only imagine the emotional agony that the mother must feel after seeing her child fall and then be attacked and killed by the dogs. Is any penalty that society could inflict worse than she already is experiencing?
As far as a lesson to others, news of this horrible death already has hit home with responsible parents.
We hope parents will be more aware of potential dangers to their children, especially when helping them stand on a railing or other structure so they can get a better view.
It only takes an instant and a fall to turn what is a fun outing into a horrifying nightmare. And the fall does not have to be in a zoo exhibit to cause harm.
In addition, the Pittsburgh Zoo and other similar facilities undoubtedly will review their safety precautions to see if additional protections are needed.
The Associated Press reports the Pittsburgh Zoo had met or exceeded all safety standards with its exhibits.
But the public must remember that a 100 percent safe exhibit isn't realistic.
We understand that authorities have a duty to investigate Maddox's death fully. But absent of proof of some intent, it's difficult to see what criminal charges would accomplish.
- The Altoona Mirror