Harold A. Birkholz saved David A. Knutson from being killed by a train, Brodhead, Wisconsin, April 26, 1963. David, 2, wandered 25 feet onto a railroad trestle and sat down between the rails of the single track with his back toward a freight train approaching at 25 m.p.h. The train was within 300 feet of David when the engineer applied the emergency brakes. The engine, which had started to jerk, was 200 feet from David and had slowed to 20 miles an hour when Birkholz, 32, locomotive fireman, left the cab and moved to the side steps. He descended them backwards and stepped thence onto a footboard at the front of the engine. Holding to a handrail, he crouched and extended one arm as the engine, then traveling at eight m.p.h. and still jerking, approached to within 18 inches of David. Birkholz grasped the back of David’s shirt and lifted him, but his feet were drawn under the footboard. Birkholz stood upright and lifted forcibly on David, drawing his feet from beneath the footboard. David’s shirt began to tear. Birkholz clasped David to his chest as the train traveled 90 feet farther and stopped. David and Birkholz escaped serious injury.
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