A West Michigan native killed in a dog attack while jogging in Lapeer County is remembered as a man who valued the important aspects of life – his family and his health.
Craig Sytsma, 46, on July 23 was on his usual route from his work in Oxford when two Cane Corsos attacked him in Metamora Township, causing fatal injuries. The Livonia man knew the route well, having jogged it almost nightly as part of a fitness routine after he beat colon cancer two years ago.
“He ran because he felt that keeping in shape would also help ward off that cancer because he didn’t want that to come back again. He was very in tune with his body,” said his mother, Jacque Sytsma of Grandville.
The two dogs accused of killing Craig Sytsma are in quarentine, and their owners could face potential manslaughter charges, the Lapeer County prosecutor said. The prosecutor’s office is also seeking a judge’s order to euthanize the two dogs as well as another adult dog and seven puppies found at a residence. It could be months before a judge to makes a determination of the animals’ fate.
Since her son’s death, Jacque Sytsma has dreamed of how the attack could’ve been avoided. Police reports show the dogs come from a Metamora Township home where dogs have allegedly attacked at least two other people. Jacque Sytsma said the owners were not home when her son was attacked.
“The takeaway from this I would say is this could’ve been prevented,” she said.
Some relatives have become bitter.
“I’m just trying to hold strong and hold the family together and take it one day at a time,” she said.
Jacque Sytsma said it hurts that her son’s daughter, Tyra, 15, will experience major events like prom and high school graduation without her father. He became closer to his children, including two sons in their 20s, following his cancer diagnosis and also left behind a 2-year-old granddaughter named Leylah.
Lately for Craig Sytsma, “the important things were important and the other things in between didn’t mean anything,” his mother said.
He recently opened his own business, Sytsma Services, which provided consulting services to foundries. He was a metallurgical engineer and technical director at Eltro Services.
Growing up, he earned good grades and had strong faith. He graduated from Michigan Tech.
His relatives in recent days brought up memories of him acting like a “goofball” and “a little klutzy.” He was prone to small disasters that they later laughed at, his mother said, but he stayed out of trouble.
“He was a good man. He helped people,” she said.
Relatives hope Craig Sytsma’s death is a reminder for walkers, runners and cyclists to be constantly aware of their surroundings. His mother urged joggers to bring identification and have mace or something to defend themselves with.
“We would hate to see this happen to anybody else,” Jacque Sytsma said. “You never think it would happen until it happens to someone close.”
Visitation for Craig Sytsma will be 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, at Harry J. Will Funeral Home, 37000 Six Mile Road in Livonia. Another visitation will be held 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Cook Funeral Home – Jenison Chapel, 1889 Baldwin St.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Friday at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1481 Baldwin St. in Jenison.
Contributions may be made to the Tyra Sytsma Education Fund at Fifth Third Bank. Memorial contributions may also be made on the family at youcaring.com.