Vigil held for student struck, killed by train

Mark and Patti Lewis at the Chico State Bell Memorial Union hall, Sept. 27, for a photo signing event dedicated to their deceased daughter, former student Samantha Lewis. Friends and family wrote messages to Lewis on the picture frames. Photo credit: John Domogma

Friends and family of deceased Chico State student, Samantha Lewis, gathered Monday night to celebrate her life in a photo signing and candlelight ceremony.

Lewis was struck and killed by a train the morning of Oct. 13. She was a nutrition and food science major.

Lewis will be remembered as the girl who was always happy and someone who had a deep connection with nature, said Stephanie Aguiar, Lewis’s friend and former roommate, during the service.

“Whenever I’m walking around and there is a slight breeze or when I’m walking in Bidwell, exercising near the creek, I just feel her there,” she said. “It feels like she’s a part of it and for me its like she’s still here all around us.”

Lewis wanted to help children once graduating, said Dr. Kathryn Silliman, chair of the nutrition and food science department.

“With her degree, Samantha wanted to find ways to incorporate healthy food into children’s meals,” Silliman said.

Lewis was kind and wanted to be friends with every person she met, said Isabelle Charles, Lewis’ best friend and roommate.

“She was so eager to share every part of her life with everyone she loved,” Charles said. “She embraced the simple pleasures in life and made sure that she never lost sight about what she cared most about.”

Samantha was in a very dark place when she ender her life, said her father, Mark Lewis.

“How that starts, some of us don’t know – many of us don’t know. It could be a small crack in a door which was opened to darkness,” he said.

Lewis was able to bring a spark into the lives of every person she came into contact with, he said.

“Samantha was a person – she was able to bring people out of darkness,” Mark said. “What she did for everyone here was plant a spark of life and each of you need to honor her and take that spark and spread it.”

Lewis’ father gave advice to everyone in attendance at the memorial to appreciate their loved ones.

“Strength is not in the ability to hide vulnerability,” he said. “Real strength is in recognizing people who genuinely care and love you.”

Memories of Samantha should be remembered and talked about so people will know how incredible she was, said Patti Lewis, her mother.

Patti advised the audience to always take time to remember who loves you and acknowledge that they are there for you.

“Take the time to look around you and appreciate the people around you,” she said. “We don’t go through our best lives alone.”

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Madison Holmes contributed to this report.