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Leanne Seely
Seely, right, stands aside Monday as horses and handcarts pass in Fairview during a pioneer trek commemoration that he organized.

FAIRVIEW, Sanpete County — Family and friends used to call Edwin Montell Seely the "toughest pioneer alive today."

This Saturday, they'll pay their last respects to a man who lived and died the pioneer lifestyle.

Seely and fellow pioneer commemorator Hannah Wagstaff, 13, of Tropic, were killed Tuesday during a pioneer re-enactment trek that Seely organized in Fairview, Sanpete County.

Family members remarked that Seely, 74, of nearby Castle Dale, was born "200 years too late" but tried to live the pioneer life anyway.

The Sanpete County native spent his time writing family histories, planning pioneer activities and writing the Castle Valley Pageant, one of the longest-running LDS outdoor plays, which portrays the call from LDS Church President Brigham Young to settle Castle Valley.

"He said his mission was to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers," said son Mark Seely.

Seely's funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Castle Dale Stake Center on 15 W. Main in Castle Dale.

The Wagstaff family held a private funeral for their daughter, Hannah, Wednesday morning at a small pioneer cemetery where other family and relatives are buried and where they had previously purchased plots, said daughter LeAnne Seely.

Seely had organized a five-day pioneer trek that started in Fairview Monday night and was to wind through the canyon, then down over the mountains into Castle Valley by Saturday.

The family thought it was interesting that Seely didn't invite the entire county to participate in the trek, like he has done for other treks.

"I'm glad that there wasn't a larger group of people," said Mark Seely. He was driving a van that led the way and was followed by a horse-drawn wagon and a handcart.

The three unrelated families were only a few minutes into their event Tuesday morning when they were hit by a Chevy truck that overtook them on the winding, canyon road.

The driver was not able to see the handcart due to the blinding sun and crashed into the handcart.

The family has said they understand it was not intentional, Mark Seely said. The case will be sent to the Sanpete County Attorney's Office for screening to see if charges are warranted.

Wagstaff, who had been pushing the handcart, was hit and killed first. Then the truck veered slightly and hit Seely, who had been in the road waving his arms to try to warn the driver to slow down.

Seely's two grandchildren and Mark Seely's children, Hannah, 9, and Jonathan, 7, were injured in the crash.

Hannah Seely was released Wednesday morning from the Sanpete Valley Hospital in Mt. Pleasant with a brace for her broken collarbone, said LeAnne Seely, the children's aunt.

Jonathan Seely was flown to Primary Children's Medical Center and has since been upgraded from the intensive care unit to a regular room, she said.

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