Community and country rally to help farm family

There’s been an outpouring of condolences 
and trust fund contributions

The deaths of three young sisters in a farm accident earlier this month has brought an outpouring of support.

The tragic deaths of Catie Bott, age 13, and her twin sisters Dara and Jana, both 11, has had a “far-reaching impact” on people both near and far, said Pastor Brian Allan, a close family friend of the Botts.

“We’ve had emails, texts, and various forms of contact from people across the country who have been sending their condolences and asking if there’s anything they can possibly do,” said Allan.

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“It’s a huge help to (the Botts) to know how many people care.”

The family has also received “tremendous support” from their farm neighbours in the wake of the tragedy. The day after the accident, a group of local farmers turned up at the Botts’ farm near Withrow to finish the harvest.

“The other farmers in the area have shown up in a big way with combines and tractors and all the things they need to help them with the harvest and field work,” said Allan.

That type of support is no surprise, he added.

“We’re so proud to be a part of this community because we get a chance to enjoy the sense of care that we have for one another out here. There’s a lot of big hearts,” said Allan. “Roger and Bonita have poured their heart out, and now they’re finding themselves being carried by their community.

“It really warms the heart and makes a person really thankful you can be part of it in some way.”

Details of exactly what happened weren’t released, other than the girls were playing on a grain truck being loaded at the farm when they became buried in canola, the RCMP said it a statement. They were freed by adults at the farm, who immediately began CPR, which was continued by first responders who quickly arrived at the scene. Their efforts were not successful and two of the sisters died at the scene and the third died after being airlifted to Edmonton.

Their parents, who also have a son, Caleb, issued the following statement the day after the tragedy: “Our kids died living life on the farm. It is a family farm, and we do not regret raising and involving our kids on our farm. It was our life.”

A trust fund for the family has been set up at the Eckville District Savings and Credit Union. So far, the support has been “absolutely amazing,” said general manager Mitch Krecsy.

“Our employees are having an extra-busy week this week handling the contributions to the account,” said Krecsy. “It’s overwhelming.”

The donations will be used to support the family in the coming months and years, said Krecsy.

“It’s for their support, their peace of mind, their comfort — whatever they want to use it for, it’s up to them.”

Another trust fund for the Botts, created by family friends Dave Brand and Pam Koenig on GoFundMe, saw more than $113,000 in donations in the first five days after it was created.

That money will be deposited to the Bott Family Trust.

Condor School — which the girls attended until two years ago — is offering grief counselling to students during this “very confusing and difficult time,” said Wildrose School Division superintendent Brad Volkman.

“In a small, tight-knit community like Condor, they are known well by our staff and our students,” said Volkman. “They will be sorely missed.”

The community also came out in force to support the Bott family on the Sunday after the tragedy. A few hundred people gathered at the Withrow Gospel Mission and, following the service, released 500 balloons into the sky in memory of the three girls.

Donations can be made at Eckville District Savings and Credit Union through cheque payable to Bott Family Trust, or via e-transfer to [email protected], using the password Bott. To donate to the GoFundMe trust fund, click here.

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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