Eight-year-old bulldog “Sampson” was saved by the quick reaction of two Long Island Rail Road members last Tuesday.
Mike Francow was sitting down for lunch at an East Hampton park when his bulldog took off on an impromptu adventure. The Suffolk County building contractor told the New York Post that Sampson, his eight-year-old bulldog, is “the type of dog that always returns,” usually to his van. But after searching the area, a self-described “distraught” Francow had to return to work.
Meanwhile, Sampson’s adventure had brought him onto nearby train tracks — and into the path of an oncoming engine. “As a dog lover, it’s like my worst fear to hit a dog,” LIRR engineer Christian Beck said. “Luckily it was a section of track where the max speed you can go is only like 40 miles an hour. It was enough time to react and slow the train.”
Beck, alongside assistant conductor Vinny Fragale, hopped down onto the tracks to get Sampson clear. And even though he was missing a ticket, they invited him along for the remainder of their jaunt from Jamaica to Montauk. “I could tell, like, ‘Oh he’s been out for a while, he just wants some shade,’” Beck recalled. “I was thinking about my own dog, like, you know, if he was left out. Or he had gotten out somewhere else. I’d be totally scared.”
After coaxing Sampson aboard, the two crewmembers gave him some water to help him cool down on the remainder of their trip. “He loves to ride, so I’m sure when the train pulled up and they opened the door he was like, ‘Sure, this is great,’” Francow said. He was reunited with Sampson just 20 minutes after the train’s arrival at the Montauk station, after conductor Mike Stabile posted their newfound friend to local lost pet Facebook groups.
They still managed to arrive at their scheduled stop on time, just before 1:00 p.m. LIRR President Phil Eng praised Beck and Fragale’s quick thinking and big hearts in a statement to PEOPLE, promising a formal thank-you:
This act of heroism is another example of how our workforce is truly part of the community where they live and serve. Our conductors and engineers and other frontline workers are truly compassionate people who take pride in helping their Long Island neighbors.
As a dog owner myself I am glad that our crew went above and beyond to rescue Sampson and connect him with his owner. I look forward to providing a commendation for all of these employees and working with our labor leaders to acknowledge the true spirit of the workforce.
“Those are some really special people to do that and take care of him,” Francow echoed, and promised to put a proper tag on Sampson’s collar to prevent the near-deadly escapade from happening again.