GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of a man mauled to death by two dogs told 24 Hour News 8 that they don’t know if they will ever get over his sudden and violent death.
Craig Sytsma, 46, was jogging along a country road in Metamora Township, about 45 miles northwest of Detroit, when he was attacked and killed Wednesday. Sytsma lived in Livonia, but he is originally from Grandville.
His parents spoke about a man who was proud of his kids, proud of his family and a proud Michigan Tech alum.
Sytsma’s family spent Tuesday gathering pictures for the 46-year-old’s funeral service.
“I don’t know of one person who does not like Craig. He just didn’t have any enemies,” said his mother Jacque Sytsma.
Each member of his family — his mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law — told 24 Hour News 8 it still doesn’t feel real that he’s gone.
“Every time I try to sleep at night, you wake up and think it’s a dream and then you realize it isn’t,” his mom said, while choking back tears.
They had planned to see Sytsma in a week at a family get-together, but those plans changed when they got word that he had been mauled to death while jogging.
“The people that found and tried to help Craig, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to them,” said Jacque Sytsma. “She held him in her arms as he died, and she did the best she could with the situation that she was in.”
Craig Sytsma was attacked by two cane corsos, a large mastiff-type breed of dog. 24 Hour News 8 has learned the two dogs have attacked people before.
The dogs have been removed from their owner, and there will be a hearing on Friday to determine if they will be destroyed. The owner could face charges.
Sytsma’s family did not want to speak directly about the mauling itself.
“I don’t think that it’s like a normal death where in a couple months you start to feel better, because everything’s just going to keep coming back up and you go through this process. It’s not right,” said Sherri Sytsma, Craig’s sister-in-law.
Sytsma’s family wants other joggers and cyclists to be aware of what could happen, and be prepared.
“Have some kind of stones in your pocket, anything,” said Jacque Sytsma. “You just need to know when you’re running alone in the country on a path, mace, anything to protect your life.”
They also told 24 Hour News 8 that they hope joggers carry identification, or wear ID bracelets, while they are out exercising.
It took about 12 hours for Sytsma’s body to be identified because he was not carrying any identification.
A fund has been set up online to help cover hospital bills and funeral costs, and there has been a college fund for Sytsma’s daughter Tyra set up at Fifth Third Bank.