Officials, family and friends say a man killed this week by a commuter train was a Silicon Valley tech worker trying to save another victim who was critically injured.
Philip Scholz, 35, was trying to pull another man from the tracks Monday. The second man, whose name has not been released, has been too injured to talk to investigators but apparently did not want to leave the tracks, leading both men to get hit by the train traveling between 50 and 70 mph through Santa Clara.
Scholz, a Santa Clara University grad who lived in Pleasanton, was a marketer for computer graphics company Nvidia, where co-workers said they weren't surprised at all that he was willing to risk his life to save a stranger.
“He's not a person that would have just stood by,” Scholz’s wife Emily said in a telephone interview with NBC Bay Area.
People who knew him say it was not in Scholz's DNA to stand by when somebody needed help.
On Monday, Scholz was at the Santa Clara station when he saw a man down on the Caltrain tracks. He tried to pull the man off the tracks by lying on his stomach and reaching out to him as a train came toward them.
Scholz died. The man he was trying to help survived.
“He saw someone in danger and did what he could, or what he thought he could, to assist,” Emily Scholz said.
She said her husband's actions define the man she met at Santa Clara University so many years ago.
“It says to me he was a person that was willing to do the right thing,” she said. “I know that sounds generic—but a person who didn't stop to really worry about why was that person out there.”
Her husband was always willing to drop what he was doing to help others, Emily said.
“He was really an open person who made himself available to anyone, whether it was my family or friends in need or helping out with a friend's kids,” she said. “He's just an incredibly generous person.”
For the past few days, Emily Scholz said her family and friends have been there for her, celebrating his life and his actions to save another in need.
“It's just incredible that we have this amazing network that I think is going to help me through the next years and the rest of my life.”