The small community of Baker, MT, was recently reminded of how dangerous ranching and rural living can be after a tragic accident claimed the lives of a young couple.

Dustin and Kandi Koenig, both 29, were killed on their ranch in eastern Montana on Jan. 9. The accident happened when a large building panel fell, crushing them. Their two older children discovered the bodies when they went outside to do chores.

Most of us who were raised and continue to live on farms and ranches have been touched in some way by a farm accident involving other family members, friends, relatives or neighbors. Few, though, have suffered an accident with consequences as horrible as the Koenig family.

Tina, 11, Travis, 9, and their younger siblings Taylyn, 7, and Terrell, 4, are now being cared for by their four grandparents who live in the Baker area. The grandparents are doing their best to see that the children's lives continue in as normal a manner possible.

However, they need help in raising the four children. Anyone who feels inclined to help can join the Montana Stockgrowers Association in an effort to alleviate the financial burden of the grandparents — and help put some money away for future college expenses. Checks can be sent to the Koenig Children's Fund, c/o Linda Grosskopf, P.O. Box 30755, Billings, MT 59107.

And, this tragedy serves as a reminder to everyone — apply all the common-sense rules in making your ranch a safer place to live and work. Next time you're in a hurry or taking a chance, please think about the last living moments of Dustin and Kandi Koenig. To read their obituaries, go to: