Monday, January 15, 2007

Woman Becomes Getaway Driver Unknowingly

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CORAOPOLIS - An elderly woman unknowingly gave a bank robber a lift, according to the woman and police.

Juanita Bland, 75, was stopped near a post office in Coraopolis shortly before noon Monday when the electric sliding door of her minivan became stuck.

The van is equipped with a motorized door and ramp for her wheelchair.

"I couldn't get out of the van, so I waited a few moments hoping somebody would walk by who might be able to help," said Bland. "Then I saw this fellow walking my way, so I beckoned him over and asked if he could please help with the door."

The man, according to police, had just robbed a PNC Bank branch.

The man slid the door closed, and then got into the passenger seat and asked for a ride, Bland said.

"He didn't seem threatening or anything, so I said 'OK' and drove off," she said.

He exited a few blocks later, got into a white sedan and drove off.

Bland said a friend called her concerned that she had been abducted because another acquaintance heard on a police scanner that the suspect had gotten into her van.

"When I think back now of what could have happened, I feel blessed that I'm OK," Bland said.

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