Local officer becomes hero in DC

January 21, 2009 9:16:09 AM PST
More than one million people rode Washington DC's subway system Tuesday. And one woman may have died, if not for the heroics of a Houston METRO police officer. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Houston's METRO police sent 10 officers to Washington D.C. to help out with security. A 68-year-old woman from Nashville is thankful Officer Eliot Swainson was one of them. In an exclusive interview, he talked an Eyewitness News crew in D.C. about how he saved her life.

"It's just what we're trained to do, whether it's in Houston or abroad," said Officer Swainson.

He doesn't believe he's a hero. But that's exactly what some are saying after he saved that woman on the DC subway early Tuesday morning before the inauguration. Swainson's job yesterday was supposed to be simple.

"Making sure people were boarding the trains properly, and giving them instructions as to what trains to take," he said.

But in the packed subway, something went wrong.

"There was some screaming that had started," he recalled. "People started saying somebody fell under the track."

There was no time to pull the elderly woman up, so Officer Swainson did what he was trained to do.

"They gave us a safety class and told us about a little safe haven that's underneath the platform, and I essentially pushed her down and gave her the instruction to stay down," he said. "That's about as much time as you had and the train was rolling through at that point."

No one was seriously hurt, thanks to the officer.

"It was cold. I'm sure it was a scary event for her as well, so I'm just glad everything worked out that well," Officer Swainson said.

The woman had been looking for family from which she had been separated. She was sent to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder.

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