UPDATED 12/17 at 8:15 P.M.: A 60-year-old blind man said his guide dog saved his life after they both survived being run over by an A train when they fell into the tracks at a Harlem station yesterday.
Cecil Williams, of Brooklyn, and his service dog Orlando fell onto the tracks of a northbound A train at the 125th Street station shortly after 9:30 a.m. The train came to a halt with Williams trapped beneath the second car.
He told The Associated Press he was on his way to the dentist when he felt faint and tumbled onto the tracks with his 10-year-old dog, Orlando. He said the black Labrador is trained to keep him from falling into the tracks and that he "tried to hold me up."
"The dog saved my life," Williams told the AP from his hospital bed at St. Luke's Hospital.
"I'm feeling amazed," Williams said, according to AP. "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 is diabetic, according to AP, and lost his eyesight due to the illness, reported a 1998 New York Times story on his fiancée at the time.
The motorman, who a source identified as Philip Dominguez, 30, saw the fallen rider and pulled the emergency brake but the train rolled over Williams, according to officials. Dominguez has been working for the MTA since November 2012, the source said.
Danya Gutierrez, 19, of Washington Heights, said she was standing on the southbound side of the station when she saw Williams fall "face first" on the track.
"People around me, they were screaming, panicking and running upstairs to try and get an MTA employee," Gutierrez said. She said the train came a minute or two after the fall, but the time frame could not be confirmed with officials.
The MTA said in a statement that an agency employee at the station told Williams to stay in the trough between the rails. People tried to wave to the operator as he headed into the station, but the train was unable to stop in time.
"The train made a sudden stop but it had already passed [over] him," Gutierrez said. "People went crazy. People were screaming their heads off, people were crying." The crowd was calmed when someone yelled out that Williams was alive and seemed all right, Gutierrez said.
The MTA said in its statement that the train did not come into contact with Williams, who sustained lacerations to his head. Williams was taken to St. Luke's in stable condition without any serious injuries, according to fire and police officials.
FDNY Capt. Daniel O'Sullivan said the dog had been removed from the tracks by police officers, and Williams was lifted from the track bed on a back board. "He was still semiconscious and asked right away about his dog," O'Sullivan said outside St. Luke's emergency room.