Promising University of Chicago Student Dies After Being Hit in the Neck by Stray Bullet on Commuter Train

Max Lewis
Max LewisGoFundMe

Max Lewis was only 20 and a junior at the University of Chicago, where he was pursuing a double major in computer science and economics.

Max Lewis, a 20-year-old student at the University of Chicago with a bright future ahead of him, was hit by a stray bullet as he rode home during rush hour from his internship at a downtown investment firm. He died days later.

After being rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center, Lewis underwent emergency surgery. After emerging from anesthesia, he was lucid, but paralyzed from the neck down.

Physicians asked him to make a Solomon's choice: remain on a ventilator for the rest of his life, or remove life support. To his family, Lewis blinked his answer: Take away the ventilator, according to The Forward.

Lewis died Sunday morning.

Chicago police are investigating the shooting, but do not know where the gunfire came from, authorities said. Lewis was not the intended victim. He was hit in the back of the neck when a bullet pierced the window of his elevated commuter train, police said.

Lewis had landed an internship at a downtown investment firm and was living in Chicago for the summer. His distraught friends and fraternity brothers described him as a warm, funny, goofy and driven. He was a former president of Alpha Epsilon Pi.

“He was a ball of light,” his friend, Victoria Gin, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

He had already landed a prestigious internship for the summer of 2022, Gin said. "My latest conversations with him were so optimistic,” she said. Lewis, a third-year student, was pursuing a double major in economics and computer science.

His college issued a statement following his death.

“The University is devastated by Max’s loss. During this sorrowful time, our deepest sympathies are with Max’s family, friends, and all who knew him. Max was a talented student and beloved campus leader and friend who will be greatly missed," it said.

His fraternity members have launched a GoFundMe campaign to pay for his friends to attend Lewis' funeral in Denver, where he was from. As of Wednesday, the site had received more than $74,000, far exceeding its goal of $20,000.

"Max was an intelligent, caring, compassionate member of the UChicago community and a dear friend to many," read a statement on the fundraising page. "He is known amongst friends, peers, and classmates for his kindness, goofiness, grit, impeccable work ethic, and most importantly, his unfailingly genuine soul. He will be sorely missed."

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