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Fawn grandma in trouble over wandering tot

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The big dog grabbed Regis Drahos' attention along busy Route 908 the morning of April 27. Then Drahos saw the toddler, wearing only a diaper.

"He was just steps away from the middle of the road," said Drahos, an equipment sales manager who lives nearby along Hepler Road in Buffalo Township.

Drahos pulled over, picked up the big-eyed, frightened boy and called 911 as traffic whizzed past, ignoring the 45 mph signs.

Minutes later, while Drahos, a grandfather of five, talked to police, the dog was struck and injured by a car.

Police are charging the boy's grandmother, Michele Rea, 43, of 215 Koedel Drive, with child endangerment and reckless endangerment. A summons was mailed to her. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 8.

"Apparently, she was asleep, and he is a quite active boy," said Fawn police Chief Tim Mayberry.

The chief said the boy, who is 17 months old, opened the back door and wandered away about 9:45 a.m.

Rea's house is about 100 yards up a steep, gravel road off Route 908.

On Friday, the boy remained in the custody of Allegheny County Children Youth and Family Services, according to Mayberry.

A CYF spokesman would not comment, citing privacy issues.

Rea didn't return numerous calls.

Contacted by phone at Rea's house, the boy's mother, Bridget Rea, contended that the incident was an accident, not a criminal act.

"They shouldn't have filed charges," Bridget Rea said. She said she is allowed to visit her son three times a week.

Another relative said the boy is fine and the dog is recovering.

The toddler was taken to the Fawn Township Municipal Building while police waited for child welfare workers to arrive.

Township Secretary Patricia Bryant said the boy "looked well cared for."

Mayberry said Michele Rea's preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 8.

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