Donations keep blind man, hero dog together after subway fall

Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:22pm EST
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By Victoria Cavaliere and Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A hero guide dog and his blind owner who survived being run over by a New York City subway train drew enough private donations on Wednesday to keep the two together despite the dog's impending retirement.

Cecil Williams, 60, was standing on a subway platform in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan on Tuesday when he fainted and fell on the tracks.

His 11-year-old black Labrador, Orlando, who had tried to hold him up, jumped down after him just as a train was approaching, Williams said at a news conference at St. Luke's Hospital, where he is recovering from non-life threatening injuries.

Clutching his dog, Williams said he flattened himself in the space between the rails as the train moved into the station.

"When we fell over, he stayed there with me," Williams said, as Orlando lay by his side. "He's always looking out for me. That's his job."

Williams said his diabetes and the medication he takes may have been the reason he passed out.

Williams had thought he would be forced to give Orlando up in January when the dog retires, and his costs are no longer covered by Williams' insurance.

Williams will be getting a younger dog to guide him.   Continued...

Blind man Cecil Williams (L) speaks about his service dog Orlando as his partner Cynthia holds the leash during a press conference in New York December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri