NEW YORK (CNN) — A blind man and his black Lab service dog fell onto subway tracks and escaped serious injury Tuesday after an alert Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee instructed them to duck ahead of an oncoming train.
The incident happened around 9:30 a.m. at the 125th Street station in Harlem, according to Marisa Baldeo, spokeswoman for the MTA. The blind man, identified by CNN affiliate NY1 as Cecil Williams, was walking on the subway platform with his service dog when witnesses describe him slipping and falling onto the tracks.
“I heard a man say ‘Oh no!,’ and I heard him fall into the train tracks,” witness Danya Guiterez told CNN affiliate WPIX. “I was in shock and everyone ran towards him, but no one went in the train tracks.”
A nearby MTA employee, described by Baldeo as a construction flagger, jumped into action and tried to calm the man. The MTA employee instructed Williams to lie still between the subway rails and not try and climb out as a northbound “A” train quickly approached the station, according to Baldeo.
Customers standing on the platform attempted to alert the conductor, according to a statement from the MTA.
The conductor applied the brakes when he noticed Williams on the tracks, but the train came to a stop only after one and a half cars went over the man and his dog.
Firefighters Ralph Costello, George Gerrish and Spencer Presume arrived on scene and noticed Williams was underneath the second subway car but not pinned. They jumped onto the tracks and removed him by a backboard. They said the man was just semicoherent and only managed to give his name and ask about his service dog, which was also safe and uninjured. He said little else, according to a Fire Department of New York press release.
“It’s a miracle,” Williams’ girlfriend, who only wished to only give her first name, Cynthia, told CNN affiliate NY.
Cynthia told NY1 that Williams fainted and fell over into the tracks but was expected to be fine.
“He’s doing great,” Cynthia said. “He’s on observation. I’m very grateful to God.”
Cynthia added that Williams’ dog, who she identified as 10-year-old Orlando, was OK and going home with her.