Mother of Amtrak crash victim: ‘He was my shoulder to cry on’

LAWTON, Mich. (WOOD) — Sarah Howard is grieving the loss of her 17-year-old son Wednesday night.

Tyler Wirtz was killed Tuesday after a train hit the pickup truck he was driving.

This year has been a tough one for Howard. She lost her husband to cancer in July and is now grieving the loss of her son.

“In total disbelief,” said Howard. “Total shock.”

Sometimes at a loss for words, she says only what a grieving mom can say in a situation like this.

“Just keep praying,” she said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”

Loss is something all too familiar for Howard. In July, her husband, Derek Howard, died after a 10-month battle with melanoma. Tyler was there every step of the way.

“We’ll make it, Mom,” Howard recalls him telling her. “We’ll be OK, we’re going to be all right.”

Other family members say Wirtz will still be there to watch over his mom.

“He helped (Sarah) get through Derek’s passing,” said cousin Caitlin Adkins. “He’s still here with us. He’s still going to help her get through this one.”

Howard said he was her shoulder to cry on.

Wirtz’s family has created a GoFundMe page to help pay for a funeral and related expenses.