Trust fund launched to help family hit by tragedy

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Peter Klassen, Banny's uncle, at right, and Dan Doerksen of Palliser Regional Schools at a news conference.

Touched by the support offered by friends as well as strangers, relatives of a father and his young son killed in a car crash east of Taber have set up a trust fund to help surviving family members.

Henrich (Henry) Thiessen, 33, and his son Banny, 5, were killed in a two-vehicle car crash Dec. 5 east of Taber. Henry’s wife Margaritha and their son Corny, 3, were treated in hospital for their injuries and have since been released.

Banny’s uncle, Peter Klassen, has arranged for a trust fund to be set up to help the family with expenses. The family had struggled financially after Henry, a farm labourer, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and his ability to work was limited. They later moved to a farm owned by Margaritha’s father near Chin.

Donations can be made at any ATB Financial branch in Alberta through the “Margaritha Thiessen In-Trust”  fund.

Klassen said Friday the family is appreciative of the support offered by members of their church, the school and the larger community. They have not set a goal for the amount they would like to raise through the trust fund.

“We will just get as much support as we can. If they need more, then the rest of the family will support them for the rest of it,” he said.

Klassen knew Henry since he was a child. Their friendship was renewed when Klassen married Margaritha’s sister. He described his brother-in-law as a “quiet man, a great guy” who would crawl, if needed, to the tractor to work once the illness took hold.  

Banny was a kindergarten student who had taken part in his first-ever Christmas concert at John Davidson School in Coaldale just days earlier. Klassen said his nephew’s greatest joy was being with his dad when he was combining or working the fields.

The Palliser Regional Schools’ student also loved animals, and he and his younger brother Corny really took to a couple of chickens on his grandfather’s farm.

“The morning before the little guys came out, the chickens were at the door, kind of pecking on there, wanting the little boys to come out and play with them. They were kind of like their pets,” said Klassen.

Margaritha and Corny are doing well, he said, with his nephew recovering from injuries including a broken arm and leg.