Faith holds family together in wake of farm tragedy

Friends and family gathered in a Red Deer church Oct. 23 for the funeral of three sisters who died in an Oct. 13 farming accident.

Through music and prayer, they said goodbye to Catie, 13, and twin sisters Jana and Dara Bott, 11, who died when they were crushed by canola in a grain truck on their farm near Withrow, Alta.

Wearing matching crocheted headbands, five cousins shared memories of the sisters.

Catie was always on a mission to have the family join in activities when she wasn’t reading a book or training her horse, said the cousins.

Jana was born half an hour before her twin sister and was the quieter of the two and the peacemaker in the family.

Jana enjoyed crafts, especially painting sunsets. Recently, she sewed her own nightgown and was always up for a board game.

Dara’s distinct personality showed up in her tomboy ways. She would catch insects, tear up the dirt on the quad or shoot arrows at her archery bull’s-eye.

Two days before the funeral, their parents, Roger and Bonita, held a news conference to thank everyone who offered support after the girls died.

“As far as wondering what our girls were like, we have a biased opinion on that. They were awesome. The best girls in the world. They were cool to be with, they were comfortable with themselves and with other people,” Bonita Bott said in a prepared statement she read with her husband outside the Withrow Gospel Mission.

“They all really enjoyed the farm and activities like camping, fishing, quadding and horseback riding. They were becoming a big help around the farm with yard work and cooking, and not Kraft dinner either, although we’ve had plenty of that. They would fry chicken or prepare chili and spuds. They loved family outings and spending time with their cousins,” she said.

Added Roger: “As far as missing them and not being able to ever see our kids again, that part is OK because we are going to see them again.… We don’t believe that God did this, but we’re believing that he has taken this and he is making something incredible come out of it.”

Catie, who was becoming a role model for her younger siblings, rode horses and read a lot.

“She was totally embracing becoming a young woman,” he said. “She was consciously working at being mature and responsible.”

Dara and Jana were different in their personalities.

Jana was quieter.

“She had a soft personality. She was gentle with everyone,” he said.

Dara had a strong personality.

“If there was a job to be done, Dara would be my girl,” said Bonita.

“Just the other week I told her that, ‘you know honey, you’re going to be a really good mom someday and you’re going to really know how to run a household and you are going to do a good job of it.’ ”

Almost $120,000 has been raised for the Botts through online funding and an additional $40,000 was raised through a cattle auction.

“We think the reason it has touched so many is this is different,” Roger said.

“Losing one child is an unspeakable tragedy. Losing three at once, I don’t think there’s even words to describe it.”

Part of the money will be used for professional help as the family deals with the tragedy.

“It’s the here and now that we are faced with. So, how we are going to get through this? Actually, we are not going to get through this, but the Lord is going to bring us through,” he said.

Contact mary.macarthur@producer.com

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