Cecil Williams was at a Harlem subway station Tuesday morning when he became weak and dizzy. The blind man’s guide dog, Orlando, tried everything he could to keep Williams from falling, but both ended up on the tracks below. A train was headed their way and the only thing the two could do to survive was to duck between the rails as the train passed by.
Williams was headed to the dentist as he waited on the 125th Street platform in Harlem. He suddenly felt faint, and Orlando quickly responded and tried to save him.
“He tried to hold me up,” said Williams.
Orlando began barking frantically, alerting the people around them. Orlando was unable to hold Williams up and both fell onto the tracks.
An employee with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority quickly told Williams to lie down between the rails. There was not enough time to try to get him out before the next train came. The crowded subway station looked on in horror as they heard a train approaching.
“Everyone started freaking out, waving to the train for it to stop, but it wouldn’t stop,” said Danya Gutierrez, who was at the subway station at the time. “I turned around because I didn’t want to see what was going to happen.”
The whole time Orlando stayed right by Williams’ side.
“The dog was sitting right in front of him, kind of like he was guarding him,” said Lamont Smith, a transit flagman.
The train was slowed, but a few cars still rode over Williams and Orlando. Emergency crews quickly rushed to the pair, and were surprised to find Orlando unharmed, and Williams with only a few cuts and bruises. Williams was taken to the hospital, where his heroic dog continued to stay by his side.
“The dog saved my life,” said a choked-up Williams. “I’m feeling amazed.”
Williams has been blind since 1995, and Orlando is his second guide dog. He will be 11 next month, and will soon retire. Since Williams’ health insurance will not cover the cost of Orlando in retirement, Williams will likely have to give him up for adoption. If he had the money Williams says he “would definitely keep him.”