Tina Gleim has survived Stage 4 colon cancer, chemotherapy (twice) and partial removal of her right lung.
The disconcerting matter of a robber at her community bank would be deftly confronted.
"It was easy," said 51-year-old Gleim, sitting in her Washington Township living room a day after ramming the alleged robber's getaway vehicle with her Chevy S-10. "I just turned my wheel and stepped on the gas."
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Nothing about this woman — from her pastel turtleneck to her status as a York County Master Gardener — screams "demolition derby."
She can convincingly say she's never done anything like this in her life.
After working years as an environmental consultant, Gleim now spends most of her days around the quiet rural property she shares with a husband, two horses, two dogs, and a couple of cats.
She has a seat on her township's planning commission and volunteers as treasurer for a local equine organization.
It was her business with the latter that placed her at the PNC Bank at 3405 Rosstown Road in Warrington Township Thursday morning as Alexis Laskowski of Mount Holly was allegedly robbing it.
She was in a private office signing papers when she started worrying about her dog, a Siberian Husky named "Echo," who was waiting in her truck. During many trips to the bank, she took Echo inside so the dog could have a treat and some bank-teller doting.
Gleim said she's not sure why she hadn't done so on this morning, but it was on her trip to go bring the dog inside that she saw a female bank teller shaking in the bank's vestibule.
"'We were just robbed and there he goes,'" Gleim recalled the teller's words.
She told the teller she would follow the alleged robber, and she hopped in the truck with Echo.
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She's not sure how fast she was traveling, but she had the truck in second gear when she spotted Laskowski in a nearby parking lot, about to pull out on the road, she said.
"I thought, 'I can't stop him any other way, I might as well hit him,'" she said. "I saw an opportunity that I could stop a criminal from getting away with it.
The alleged robber, with whom she had eye contact for the crash, was pretty surprised, she said.
The impact didn't hurt Gleim, her dog or Laskowski. But his front driver's side wheel was so bent it was pointing the wrong way and dragging as he — trapped between Gleim's truck and a pole — reversed from his position, pulling off his front bumper in the process, she said.
Laskowski then took off with the undisclosed amount of money, but the SUV only made it about a quarter-mile up Old York Road before the damaged wheel made it impossible to drive, police said.
He abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot, but police had him in custody about 40 minutes after the robbery.
Police have credited Gleim's "courage" for the speedy apprehension, but they've balanced their praise with admonition about citizens getting involved with potentially dangerous law enforcement actions. Police have said Gleim won't be charged for intentionally ramming the robber, who they also accuse of four other bank robberies.
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Gleim said she wasn't afraid during the encounter, and adrenaline seemed to guide her actions.
"This just seemed like the right thing to do," she said. "It worked out well in this case, but it might not have in another."
The incident will end up costing Gleim about $2,000, she said, because she didn't have comprehensive insurance on the truck.
There is still also the matter of her husband, Jeff Gleim, a research engineer with Glatfelter paper in Spring Grove. She said he was a bit disappointed to learn she had crashed the truck.
(She called him at work Thursday and "said I was involved in an accident and mentioned something about a bank robber.")
"He's a little angry, but just about the truck," she said. "My mom said she was proud of me that I was so brave ...The (tellers and executives) at the bank went to shake my hand, but I gave them hugs and they hugged me back."
Gleim said she's secure in her judgment on Thursday.
"I'd probably do it again if the timing worked out, if I had an opportunity," she said.
Gleim said she had trouble sleeping Thursday night as the eye-lock she shared with the alleged robber played in a loop in her mind, but she's settling back into normalcy.
Echo's peace of mind seemed unaffected Friday morning, during which he was found sleeping atop a tray of pansies that Gleim had placed at the side of her house.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.