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'Why, why why?' Funeral held for three Alberta sisters buried in grain truck

Mourners walk past three hearses as they attend the funeral for Catie Bott, who was 13, and her twin 11-year-old siblings, Jana and Dara Bott in Red Deer, Alta., Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. The girls suffocated when they became buried in the back of a truck filled with canola on a farm near Withrow, Alta.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
October 24, 2015 - 6:00 AM

RED DEER, Alta. - Eleven-year-old Jana Bott was the quietest of the three sisters, an artistic girl who painted sunsets, sewed her own nightgown, decorated cakes and went most places clutching a pet rabbit named Marbles.

Her twin sister, Dara, was a tomboy who tore around on a quad in her family's farmyard, her helmet plastered with mud. She played with insects, shot a bow and arrow, and collected stuffed cats.

The oldest girl, 13-year-old Catie, was vibrant with an infectious grin. She wrote songs, made up plays and loved to read books and ride horses.

A funeral for the Alberta sisters was held in Red Deer on Friday, 11 days after they were buried in a truckload of canola on their parents' farm near the village of Withrow.

RCMP said the girls had been playing in the truck and suffocated before they could be pulled out.

Brian Allan, a pastor at Withrow Gospel Mission and a friend of the Bott family, told hundreds of people who gathered for the service that it's difficult to understand the deaths.

"Why, why why?" he said. "How is it possible that suddenly they could be swept away from us the way they were?

"There are some things that are a mystery to us and will be until we get to the other side."

Photos and home movies showed the three blond girls dressed up for church, pulling fish out of a lake and driving a combine on the farm. Several musicians played throughout the service.

Five of the girls' female cousins, wearing crocheted headbands in the sisters' favourite colours — purple for Jana, blue for Dara and green for Catie — took turns on stage describing the trio and how they loved farm life.

The girls' parents, Roger and Bonita Bott, have said they don't regret raising and involving their children on the farm. They also have a younger son, Caleb.

Allan said friends and neighbouring farmers pitched in to finish the family's harvest the day after the accident.

The small community is a close-knit one, he said, and everyone in it is hurting.

Some of the first responders who rushed to scene to try to revive the girls knew them as family friends or from a nearby school they used to attend. A few years ago, the Bott children started home schooling.

The girls were kind, mature and responsible children taken from the world too soon, said Allan.

After they died, he woke up without the same trivial worries he'd had before, he said. Their deaths have put things in perspective.

"Who cares if the Blue Jays win or not? Who cares if the price of oil drops through the basement? ... Nothing else matters, because our three girls were taken."

He and others in the church believe the girls are dancing in heaven, and everyone will see them again, he said.

"This isn't goodbye. This is we'll see you in a while."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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