Donations pour in for blind man and hero dog after subway fall

NEW YORK Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:23pm EST

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NEW YORK Dec 18 (Reuters) - A hero guide dog and his blind owner who survived being run over by a New York City subway train drew more than $40,000 in online donations on Wednesday from well-wishers trying to stop them from being separated when the man's insurance runs out.

Cecil Williams, 60, was standing on the subway platform in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan on Tuesday when he felt dizzy and fell to the tracks, police said.

Williams' 11-year-old black Labrador, Orlando, who had tried to hold him up, jumped down after him just as a train was approaching the station, authorities said.

Clutching his dog, the blind man flattened himself in the space between the rails as the train moved into the station. The lead car passed over them, as terrified witnesses screamed for the train to stop, local media reported.

Williams was at a Manhattan hospital on Wednesday recovering from non-life threatening injuries, a spokeswoman at St. Luke's Hospital said. Orlando has been by his side.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the guide dog school that trained Orlando, said they have been fielding hundreds of inquiries about whether Williams will be forced to give Orlando up for adoption in January when he retires from his job and loses his current insurance plan.

"We recognize everyone's concern about Orlando's future - whether he stays with Cecil or goes back to the loving home of his puppy raiser, please know he will be honored like the hero he is," the group said in a statement.

Several donation web pages have been created in an effort to raise enough money to keep the pair together.

"Come January, Cecil's insurance will no longer cover the cost to care for Orlando," the crowd funding platform Indiegogo said on its page. "Please help these two stay together!"

Donations on the site have already reached $19,000.

On the site Gofundme, more than 600 people have donated more than $21,000 for the cause. (Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)

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