The funeral for three Withrow-area sisters who died in a farm incident earlier this week will take place Oct. 23 at CrossRoads Church.
Withrow Gospel Mission Pastor Brian Allan, who will be the officiant for the service, said Friday that they are expecting a lot of people to attend and it is one of the biggest churches in Central Alberta.
Meanwhile an online fundraising campaign to help Roger and Bonita Bott after their daughters — twins Dara and Jana, 11, and Catie, 13 — died was rapidly approaching its $100,000 goal on Friday.
The Botts farm is near Withrow, a hamlet about 60 kilometres west of Red Deer.
On Tuesday evening, the girls were smothered in the back of a truck loaded with canola seed. Jana and Catie died at the farm. Dana was transferred by STARS to an Edmonton hospital but she passed away there in the early hours of Wednesday.
The Botts, who have one other child, nine-year-old son Caleb, belong to the Withrow Gospel Mission congregation.
Allan, besides being involved with the Botts at church, is also a close friend of the family and had been with them again on Friday.
“It’s a moment by moment thing because people with grief, it just is so unique and individual, and quite unpredictable because you seem like everything is fine and all of a sudden you just fall to pieces.
“But for the most part I would say they’re doing as well as can be expected with what they’re going through.”
Allan said the donations being made to help the family are expressions of caring, and allow people to contribute out of their hearts. “I think it is part of the grieving process for the whole community.”
The Bott Family Trust Fund was set up on the gofundme.com website on Thursday. One day later, more than 1,300 people had made donations and the fund had already reached over $97,000 by late Friday afternoon. Donations can also be made directly at the Eckville District Savings and Credit Union (Box 278, 5002 50th St., Eckville, AB T0M 0X0, to the Bott Family Trust).
Dave Brand and Pam Koenig, neighbours of the Botts, wrote on the gofund.com site: “In response to this campaign and the blog “A Loss Beyond Words” which has had more than 200,000 worldwide views in the last 48 hours, we have received the deepest, most insightful and encouraging comments. For this we thank you.”
“Community members, friends and family have banded together to help with the remaining harvest and to comfort the family. However, the healing and recovery period will last far longer than the story will remain in the news and on the mind of those removed from the community. The significant emotional and financial toll will be felt for a long time and we encourage those of you who are willing, to support the Bott’s in their time of need.”
Brand wrote a touching online blog about the tragedy and farm life on Wednesday. A link to the blog can be found at the fundraining website page, which is gofundme.com/bottfamilytrust. Dozens of people are expressing their condolences to the family via the website.
A balloon release is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Withrow Gospel Mission. The service next Friday will take place at 1 p.m. at CrossRoads, which is located adjacent to Hwy 2, on the west side of Red Deer.