A farming community in Canada is in mourning after three sisters were killed in an accident on a family farm.
The three girls died after they fell into a truck loaded with oilseed rape seed and were suffocated on a farm near Withrow, Alberta
Catie Bott, 13, and her 11-year-old twin sisters, Dara and Jana, were playing near the truck on Tuesday night (13 October) when they fell in and were smothered by the seed, the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) said.
The police said Catie and one of her twin sisters died at the scene. The second twin died on Wednesday (14 October) in a children’s hospital in Edmonton.
Sgt Michael Numan, of the RCMP’s Rocky Mountain House office, read a statement on behalf of the family to reporters.
“Our kids died living life on the farm. It is a family farm. We do not regret raising and involving our kids — Catie, age 13, Dara, age 11, and Jana, age 11 — on our farm. It was our life,” said the statement.
“Thank you for all the overwhelming support we have received from all of the first responders, neighbours and friends. We would ask media to respect our privacy at this time of grief.”
Choking up with emotion, Sgt Numan added: “This is hitting us all very hard. Front-line responders are routinely called out to sad situations, but things are always harder when there’s children involved.”
Alberta agriculture minister Oneil Carlier issued a statement on Wednesday offering his sympathy to the family.
“My thoughts are with the family of the three girls who died in Withrow and my heart aches for them today,” said Mr Carlier.
“As a father myself, I believe no parent should have to bear the loss of a child. I join Albertans in expressing grief and sympathy for the parents of these girls as they go through this unimaginable sorrow.”
Tom Price, NFU farm safety adviser, said: “The very sad events in Canada highlight the risks of entrapment and suffocation for anyone working with or near grain and the need to be vigilant at all times.
“Thankfully, in the year just gone there were no on-farm fatalities involving children in Great Britain. However, on average, there is one child death a year on farm.
“Let this awful incident be a timely reminder to farmers that UK law states that a child under the age of 13 is prohibited from riding on machinery, including tractors. We urge that all adults working on farm should take responsibility for child safety and to remember that something that is not a risk to an adult could very well be so for a child.
“Childcare is difficult for any parents to organise, but for farmers there is a big risk when trying to care for and supervise a child safely when doing work that needs close attention.
“Our greatest sympathies go to the relatives and friends of these three girls.”