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Houston transit cop saved woman from train on Inauguration Day

  • Story Highlights
  • Woman, 68, fell off platform at Metro's Gallery Place-Chinatown stop
  • Houston Metro Officer Eliot Swainson, another rider tried to pull her up
  • When they couldn't grab her, Swainson helped tuck her under platform
  • Woman safely huddled beneath platform lip as train passed
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's a frightening scenario, almost a staple of action movies: Someone has fallen onto subway tracks, and a train is rumbling into the station.

Houston Metro Officer Eliot Swainson helped rescue a woman from an oncoming train.

iReporter Stuart Gordon spotted rescuers after a woman fell onto subway tracks in Washington.

For a heart-stopping moment, the train is certain to strike the fallen person, until rescue comes at the last possible second.

But at a Washington Metro station near the National Mall on Tuesday, it was an all-too-real scenario, and all the more frightening.

A 68-year-old woman from Nashville, Tennessee, in Washington for the inauguration of Barack Obama, fell off the platform at the Gallery Place-Chinatown stop.

Houston Metro Officer Eliot Swainson, deputized to assist with the huge crowds for the inauguration, was aiding another rider when he heard shouts that someone was on the track. Video Watch Swainson describe what happened »

"I turned around and saw a lady standing in the track area," Swainson said.

The former Houston police officer rushed into action. He and another Metro rider tried to pull the woman to safety, but with a Red Line train bearing down on the station, they didn't have the time. See photos of the rescue operation

"The train was coming down the tunnel there," Swainson said. "It was coming in closer. I pushed her down and got her tucked down under the platform."

Swainson cited training from Metro staff for giving him the information he used to get the woman out of danger.

The woman, who was not identified, huddled beneath the lip of the granite platform as the train passed. An emergency response crew brought her back up onto the platform and took her to Washington Hospital Center, where hospital staff said she was treated and released. No further details were provided.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman Taryn McNeil said Tuesday that the woman had sustained cuts and bruises from the fall.

The agency said transit officers from 18 locations across the country were in Washington to assist with the inauguration crowds. Ridership records were shattered Tuesday: There were more than 1.5 million trips across all the authority's platforms, including more than 1.1 million on the subway system.

The Tennessee woman's accident was the only one reported on the transit line, the authority said. Are you there? Send your photos

As for Swainson, Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said he did exactly the right thing.


"Due to Officer Swainson's quick response, the woman was not seriously injured," Taborn said. "He did exactly what was expected, and we are enormously grateful for his actions."

McNeil said the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro stop was reopened not long after the accident and trains were moving through it, although there were delays.

CNN's Larry Lazo and Kelly Marshall contributed to this report.

All About U.S. Presidential InaugurationWashington, DC

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