Found and lost: Thumb Sobriety Court gives man strength to survive son’s death

Randy Nitz, 50, of Sebewaing, holds a photo of his son, Zachary Nitz, who died in a single-vehicle accident in Tuscola County’s Columbia Township on Jan. 23. Randy Nitz is struggling with the loss, but has vowed to seek support from others instead of turning to alcohol to deal with the pain. (Photo by Andrew Dietderich)
Randy Nitz, 50, of Sebewaing, holds a photo of his son, Zachary Nitz, who died in a single-vehicle accident in Tuscola County’s Columbia Township on Jan. 23. Randy Nitz is struggling with the loss, but has vowed to seek support from others instead of turning to alcohol to deal with the pain. (Photo by Andrew Dietderich)

Through nearly 40 years of good and bad times, alcohol often served as a crutch for Randy Nitz.
Now, however, at perhaps the most trying of times Nitz has ever known — as he feels more hurt than he’s ever imagined possible — the 50-year-old Sebewaing man won’t even think of taking a sip.
And so he feels that hurt. Hard.
He feels the hurt so hard tears pour from his eyes as he recalls the “outpouring of support” at the funeral of his son, Zachary Nitz, 22, who died in a single-vehicle accident in Tuscola County on Jan. 23.
He feels the hurt so hard that he talks about it anytime he can, to anyone who will listen — grief counselors, fellow attendees of support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), judges, law enforcement officers, anyone.
But as he puts it, feeling that hurt isn’t even the most important thing — it’s the strength to keep feeling that hurt.
It’s a strength Randy Nitz says might not even be possible were it not for his third drunken driving charge and his subsequent participation in the Thumb Regional Sobriety Court (TRSC), which also opened his eyes to other various support services in the area.
“I’m glad that I’m sober at the time that all of this is happening,” Nitz said, speaking of his son’s death. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if I were drinking. I probably would’ve taken all of this anger and rage I have inside me, and I would’ve turned it to the alcohol and said things to people I probably didn’t want to say, and done things I probably didn’t want to do.
“And I probably would’ve got caught drinking and driving again and then I’d be going to prison for sure — there is no sobriety court after sobriety court.” (Read more)

(This story originally appeared in the print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser on Feb. 25, 2017 and can be read in its entirety online here.)

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