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Woman killed at Newbury farm stand identified

Scene outside Sforza Family Farm in Byfield, where a woman was killed and two others were seriously injured in a crash Saturday afternoon.Ben Stas for The Boston Globe/The Boston Globe

NEWBURY — The woman who was killed here Saturday when a vehicle reversed into a bustling farm stand at a rapid speed has been identified as a member of the family who owns the farm, authorities said.

Susan Sforza Nico, 47, was working the stand around 3:30 p.m. when a vehicle careered into the checkout area, killing her and injuring a man and a child, the Essex District Attorney’s office said in a statement Sunday.

The other victims, a 57-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl, were taken to separate area hospitals in what officials described as “serious” condition, according to the statement, have since stabilized.

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The operator of the vehicle, a 70-year-old woman, has not been charged in the crash and is “cooperating with the investigation,” the statement said.

How and why her car reversed at such a speed has not been disclosed by authorities, but Newbury Police Chief John Lucey said Saturday that the driver was distraught over the incident.

“We’re focused on investigating what happened,” Lucey told reporters at the scene. “And we’re also very, very focused on the family that [is] going through a very difficult time right now.”

On Sunday, the tree-lined streets of Byfield, a close-knit village within the town of Newbury, were quiet as residents took cover from the day’s blistering heat. But behind closed doors, the community was reeling, still in shock from the prior day’s tragedy.

Several neighbors on Sunday appeared visibly shaken, one woman shedding a tear at the mention of Nico. Along with the rest of her family, Nico, of Seabrook, N.H., was well known in the community, “a sweet woman” who could regularly be found working at the farm stand, neighbors said.

“Frankly it’s terrifying,” said one man, Wayne, who, like others who spoke with the Globe Sunday, declined to give his full name. “It makes you think about the problems you have in your life and think maybe they aren’t as bad as you think. Because one day you can be shopping for flowers, like this poor woman, and boom. That’s it.”

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The farm stand, which operates on the same property as Byfield Greenhouse and Garden, was brimming with customers at the time of the crash, authorities have said. Community members said it is often that way in the warmer months.

But on Sunday, the greenhouses were empty, save for a few family members who milled about the property. Two large pickup trucks and a small chain adorned with a “closed today” sign blocked the tree-covered entrance. A man who was on the property said the family did not wish to comment.

Several residents said they had been to the greenhouses on Saturday before the crash.

One man said he had spoken with Nico. He recalled her kindness, lamenting her death as a “blow to the whole town.”

“It’s a very sad day for our town,” said the man, who asked to be identified only as a neighbor. “We’re very close to each other here, and the family that owns the greenhouses is close with a lot of folks in town. So we are all very much mourning with them today.”


Andrew Brinker can be reached at andrew.brinker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewnbrinker.