Cecil Williams pets his guide dog Orlando in his hospital bed following a fall onto subway tracks from the platform at 145th Street, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, in New York. Williams, 61 and blind, says he fainted while holding onto his black Labrador who tried to save him from falling.
NEW YORK - A blind man and his
guide dog were struck by a subway train in Manhattan on Tuesday after the man
lost consciousness and they tumbled on to the tracks, but both escaped without
Cecil Williams, 61, told
The Associated Press from his hospital bed that he was on his way to the
dentist during the morning rush hour when he felt faint on the 125th Street
platform. His guide dog, a black Labrador named Orlando, is trained to protect
him from going over the edge.
"He tried to hold me up,"
Witnesses said the dog was barking
frantically and tried to stop Williams from falling, but they both fell to the
tracks when Williams fainted.
The train's motorman slowed the subway
cars while witnesses called for help. Williams and Orlando were struck, but not
"The dog saved my life,"
Williams said, his voice breaking at times. He also was astonished by the help
from emergency crews and bystanders on the platform.
As Williams regained consciousness, he
heard someone telling him to be still. Emergency workers put him on a stretcher
and pulled him from the subway, and made sure the dog was not badly injured.
"I'm feeling amazed,"
Williams said. "I feel that God, the powers that be, have something in
store from me. They didn't take me away this time. I'm here for a reason."
Williams was taken to a hospital where
he is expected to recover, with Orlando at his bedside. Williams, a large
bandage on his head, said he is not sure why he lost consciousness, but he is
on insulin and other medications.
Orlando, who Williams described as
serious but laid-back, was at the hospital making new friends. He will be
rewarded with some type of special treat, Williams said, along with plenty of
affection and scratches behind the ears.
"(He) gets me around and saves my
life on a daily basis," Williams said.
Williams, of Brooklyn, has been blind
since 1995, and Orlando is his second dog. The lab will be 11 on Jan. 5, and
will be retiring soon, Williams said. His health insurance will not cover the
cost of a non-working dog, so he will be looking for a good home for him.
If he had the money, Williams said, "I would definitely keep him."
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