By Marco Poggio and Leonard Greene
Her nephew was only 23, but Nicole Missio can't imagine a life without Nicholas Cleves, one of the eight people killed in the Manhattan terror attack.
"We're just shocked," said Missio, whose sister, Monica Missio, was the victim's mother. "There aren't any word to describe this. We're really really stunned, and saddened, you know. The best people seem to die young."
Missio, 54, said she was vacationing with her husband in Europe, which has a little more experience with these types of attacks, when she got the tragic news.
“We were in London and we came back last night,” said Missio, who lives in Lexington, Massachusetts. “We're just processing everything right now.”
She said the software engineer was like one of her own sons.
“I knew Nicholas very well,” Missio said. “I have two sons roughly the same age, and the three of them were incredibly close. They were like brothers and we spent many holidays and vacations together.”
She said her sister is inconsolable.
“She's grieving and she's in so much shock,” Missio said. “As a family, we're completely destroyed. Nicholas was a wonderful human being and he was the only son of my sister, the only child of my sister and they were extremely close.”
Missio said the family is still dealing with the death of Cleves’ father, who died suddenly four years ago.
“That was another tragedy,” she said. “So, we've had our share.”
Missio said the family has been so overwhelmed by shock and grief that they haven't had the time to think about terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov, 29, the man federal prosecutors said drove a rented truck along a crowded West Side Highway bike path Tuesday.
“At the moment I'm so numb, I'm not thinking of the attacker,” Missio said. “I'm not even thinking about that, other than it's incredibly senseless what happened.”