wild african dogRemember that horrifying story about the toddler who fell into the wild dogs exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo and was mauled to death? We couldn't imagine how awful that was for the boy's mother, Elizabeth Derkosh. So I learned today that she will not be charged in the death of her son, and my first thought was -- that was a possibility?!? I mean, I know there are plenty of people out there eager to blame the poor woman. But did anyone seriously think that would be the most logical next step, charging her?

But there it is. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. called it a "tragic accident." I guess there was an investigation? And he explained how that little boy fell into the exhibit in the first place -- it's a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Maddox Derkosh had vision problems and wore glasses, so Elizabeth just lifted him up to get a better view. And then he lunged suddenly, as toddlers do, and that's when the awful accident happened. They interviewed witnesses.

I'm sure it felt worse to know this investigation was going on, and that there were people who felt Elizabeth was responsible for her son's death. So hopefully it's some comfort to her to know at least the police aren't blaming her. I'm sure she's played that moment over and over in her head, wishing she'd never picked up Maddox to give him a better view. She must be torturing herself with the memory.

I think she's suffered enough! We know there are mothers who do deliberate harm to their children, but they are the rare exception. I think we need to show compassion for Elizabeth. This was a mistake any one of us could have made ourselves.

Have you ever put your child in what you later realized was a dangerous position?

 

Image via Luca Venturi Oslo/Flickr