Cecil Williams, who fell into the path of an oncoming A train at the 125th St. station on Tuesday, tearfully thanked Orlando, the guide dog who stuck by him after the two fell onto the tracks. Thanks to donations, Williams will be able to keep Orlando, having thought he would have to give the dog up after he retired from service because he couldn’t afford to keep both him and another guide dog.
Cecil Williams’ guide dog Orlando sits besides him during a press conference at St. Luke’s Hospital
A pre-Christmas subway miracle that saved the life of a blind man and his guide dog in Harlem on Tuesday was followed a day later by the gift of a lifetime.
Cecil Williams will now be able to keep Orlando — the loyal dog that stood by him and dodged death along with him when he fell onto the tracks at the 125th St. A-train station — thanks to two donors who were inspired by the remarkable tale of survival.
“The spirit of Christmas exists here, it’s in New York!” an emotional Williams told reporters moments after he learned Wednesday that he won’t have to put Orlando up for adoption.
‘Guide dogs serve a purpose, and they are very loyal and they are very good,’ Williams (left) said of Orlando.
The black Labrador retriever turns 11 next month, and will be retiring after serving Williams since 2006. Williams, 61, of Brooklyn, will be getting a new guide dog. He had been faced with having to part with Orlando because his insurance company won’t cover a nonservice dog, and he can’t afford a pet.
But New Jersey businessman Andrew Piera, 48, a married father of two and a dog lover, volunteered to pay for all of Orlando’s expenses — for the rest of the Lab’s life.
Cecil Williams pets his guide dog Orlando. Williams will be allowed to keep the dog after he retires from service.
And Williams, who survived his harrowing ordeal by laying in the trough between the rails along with his loyal pooch as an A train passed over them, got a call from an official at the Animal Medical Center, where Orlando will be given free care.
“I think it’s a time to rejoice … It’s goodwill on Earth, all these donations,” Williams told reporters at St. Luke’s Hospital, where he is recuperating from a blow to the head suffered when he fell onto the tracks. “I’d like to say thank you, but I’m looking for some more words to describe how it feels … it’s a blessing, a miracle.”
Williams tears up recounting the story of how his guide dog Orlando stayed by his side after he fell into the path of an oncoming train.
Piera, who runs a trucking firm, Blue Star Transportation, was touched by Orlando’s loyalty. “He’s worked hard all his life, and now he should be covered with hugs and kisses and tummy rubs,” Piera, who has a schnauzer named Fritz, told the Daily News. “Those two should be able to stay together — I don’t care what it costs … I hope they have a Merry Christmas.”
Williams, a diabetic, grew dizzy, fainted and ultimately fell onto the tracks on Tuesday, despite Orlando’s efforts to keep him away from the platform edge.
Emergency workers respond to the A train platform at the 125th St. station, where Cecil Williams and his guide dog Orlando fell onto the tracks.
As a train roared into the station, transit flagman Larmont Smith yelled for Williams, who was dazed but had Orlando at his side, to lie between the rails. The two ducked down in the nick of time, and were not hit by the train.
“Orlando stayed down there with me. He was licking my face. He was there for me,” Williams said, petting the dog as he spoke.
Pals for life! Cecil Williams pets his guide dog Orlando in his hospital bed following a fall onto subway tracks from the platform on Tuesday.