Family claims 8-year-old was left home alone after brother's arrest



SCOTTDALE, Pa. - The family of a Scottdale teen claims he was forced to leave his little sister alone when he was arrested for failing to mail in a traffic ticket.

John Gardiner’s mother, Nancy Brannagan, said he was babysitting his 8-year-old sister at the family home when a Westmoreland County constable arrested him for the violation stemming from an April citation for failing to observe a traffic control device.

Channel 11’s Alan Jennings reported that magistrate Ron Haggerty issued a warrant for the arrest of Gardiner for not sending in the ticket.

Brannagan said she understands that her son made a mistake in not mailing the ticket to the magistrate, but she is upset by what her young daughter had to say about the incident. She said that the constable, Jerry Sower, lured her out onto the porch.

“She's seeing a side that’s scary, you know. Somebody in a uniform came, you know, with no explanation, removed him and left her home alone, and that's what angers me,” said Brannagan.

Brannagan said that Gardiner pleaded with Sower not to leave his sister home alone and to let him call his mother.

“I don’t see what was so criminal that it couldn’t wait 10 minutes,” said Brannagan.

She said that her daughter called to tell her that Gardiner was gone.

Sower claims that he never encountered the girl, that she was at a neighbor’s house and was never left alone.

Scottdale police are investigating the incident after the Brannigan family made an official complaint about Sower.