Alana Baxter lost her husband and two daughters in the crash on May 4. (CBC)

The Edmonton woman who lost her husband and two daughters in a train crash earlier this month said she takes comfort from a ceremony that was held Thursday at the girls' elementary school.

Students at Winterburn School sang a song, and planted a tree and two shrubs Thursday in the memory of John Baxter and his daughters, Julianne, 9, and Coral, 7. They then released butterflies into the sky.

"It was just so touching and comforting to know that if I miss my children and my husband, I can come and sit on this bench and look at these trees and just feel them," Alana Baxter said. "And I felt them here with me today. It's just wonderful that they did this."

On May 4, John Baxter was driving his daughters to Winterburn School during a spring snowstorm when their truck was struck by the Vancouver-bound Via Rail passenger train at a level crossing in west Edmonton.

Julianne was in Grade 4 and Coral was in Grade 2. The Baxters also have a 2½-year-old son, John Jr.


Students at Winterburn School remembered their classmates Coral and Julianne Baxter, and their father, John on Thursday. (CBC)

"All the care and compassion that people have showed has just been my source of strength right now," Alana Baxter said. "Life can be so tragic. But people can be there as angels to lift you up when you're just down."

Students and staff at Thursday's ceremony wore Edmonton Oilers jerseys. The Baxters were dedicated fans. Students also brought gifts and cards to let Alana Baxter know she wasn't alone.

"They feel the loss," said school principal Shane Dzivinski. "Having the opportunity to be able to share with the family was an important piece for them and being able to grieve together and have that closure."

The investigation continues into the cause of the crash, which happened at 8:40 a.m. at a level crossing north of the intersection of Winterburn Road and 111th Avenue.

The wreckage of the truck ended up in the ditch. It was damaged so badly police could not immediately determine the make of the vehicle.