Farming community says goodbye to sisters following tragedy
Residents of Withrow and the surrounding area gathered on Sunday for a somber tribute to three young girls killed in Tuesday evening’s accident on their family farm.
The Bott family, who lost 13-year-old Catie and her twin 11-year-old sisters, Jana and Dara, has received an outpouring of support from the community. On Sunday afternoon, 500 helium balloons in an array of colours were released to honour the memories of the Bott girls.
“It reminded me so much of the girls,” said Tannin Zinger, a family friend. “It’s a great way to show our love for the family.”
For many in the community, the Bott sisters were considered members of their own extended family.
“We all went to each other’s house after church every Sunday,” said Baillie Burns. “We’d always see each other.”
“We would paint and cook together,” recalls Adelita Studer, Jana’s best friend. “She was just perfect.”
On Tuesday evening, the three girls were playing on a truck filled with canola when they became buried in the load. The tiny seeds acted like quicksand and the girls suffocated. Two of the girls passed away on the family farm, while the third lost her battle after being transported to hospital in Edmonton.
Family friend Dave Brand says the fact the girls are no longer around is tough to comprehend.
“As a community, we’re still reeling,” said Brand. “It’s really difficult to conceptualize what happened.”
Hundreds of people crowded into the local church to show their support for the girls’ parents, Roger and Bonita, and their brother Caleb.
“Most weeks, Roger and Bonita are on the platform leader with songs,” said Brian Allan, the church pastor. “Everyone feels a connection with them. We all feel the pain as well.
A GoFundMe page created by a family friend surpassed its lofty goal of $100,000 in donations for the family in a mere three days.
“There’s costs that will come out of this and we can’t even anticipate what they’ll be at this point,” said Brand. “We wanted the family to get through this and not worry about the financial toll it will take.”
The three girls will be laid to rest on Friday at Crossroads Church in Red Deer.
With files from CTV's Ina Sidhu