PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium reopened Tuesday after the death of a 2-year-old at the park.
The medical examiner said Maddox Derkosh bled to death after he fell into the African painted dogs exhibit on Sunday and was mauled by the animals. A small memorial of wreaths, flowers and stuffed animals began forming at the exhibit where the accident happened.
Channel 11’s Amy Marcinkiewicz spoke with the Derkosh family’s pastor about how the family is dealing with the tragedy.
"Right now is a tough one. A real tough one," the Rev. Dave Bonnar of St. Bernard Church said. "My first thought was unspeakable beyond words. My second thought was I wanted to pray for the family."
Bonnar baptized Maddox about two years ago, and will be the one to give his final eulogy on Friday.
"Parents aren't supposed to bury their children and grandparents aren't supposed to bury their grandchildren," Bonnar said. "There are a gam
ut of emotions with death, and nowhere is that truer than with a death of a child."
Bonnar said he plans on being there for the family as long as they need.
Meanwhile, a local woman is raising money to help the family of the boy pay for funeral expenses.
The Whitehall boy's funeral is Friday. One mom from Pittsburgh said she is heartbroken over the boy's loss and felt compelled to help the family.
Kristen Nock said she reached out to her social media contacts after learning about the tragedy in hopes of raising money to help pay for Maddox's funeral.
"I just couldn't get the story off my mind. I just felt compelled by God to help this family," Nock said. "It is hard to look at them and not feel compelled to help the family. I can't imagine."
The 25-year-old preschool teacher and mother of two said she created a Facebook page in support of the family and soon thousands of people joined.
"People are requesting faster than I can accept, posting comments faster than I can cut and copy them," Nock said.
Nock said she has no connection to the 2-year-old's family but she hopes the page can be a light of support for Maddox's loved ones.
"I'd like to print the comments and give it to the family so they can see it's not all negative," Nock said.
Maddox's parents are asking friends, relatives and other mourners to donate toy construction trucks in the boy's name, which will be given to a Christmas children's charity.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner has yet to rule on the manner of the boy's death -- that is, whether it was an accident or not -- until police determine whether anyone will be charged.
The boy's family has not commented.