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As the express train came hurtling toward the Santa Clara station, Philip Scholz was waiting on the raised platform for his train home when he saw a man down on the Caltrain tracks.
Scholz acted fast. He dropped his backpack, lay down on his belly and reached for the stranger on the tracks.
"As the train approached, the person did want to get out of the way," said his wife, Emily Scholz, "but between him and Phil, something happened and they were hit."
Scholz died on the tracks. The other man survived.
Speaking publicly on Friday for the first time since her husband's rescue attempt went wrong Monday evening, Emily Scholz said she learned he was dead -- and what he did -- when San Mateo County sheriff's deputies arrived at her doorstep that night to deliver the horrible news.
Scholz's death left friends and co-workers stunned -- shocked to lose a well-loved and respected companion but not surprised to hear he died trying to save someone else. He helped people. That is what he did, they said, even to the extent of risking his life for someone he'd never met.
"That's totally Phil, putting someone else before himself," said Matt Conwell of Portland, Ore., who met Scholz 12 years ago in a professional capacity but became fast friends. "That's the way he was. I can only hope to live life like he did."