Exeter nonprofit building memorial barn to honor hit-and-run victim

West Bay

EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been nearly four years since Sarah Balmforth was hit and killed by a driver while walking her dog, but her memory will live on forever at a local nonprofit where she volunteered.

To those who knew her, Balmforth, 27, was a caring person who loved animals.

Amy Almeida met Balmforth at the Exeter Animal shelter. A non-profit that’s associated with the shelter, “Friends of Exeter Animals,” is currently building a memorial barn in Balmforth’s honor.

“She was just an amazing person, an all-around good person,” Almeida, who’s the treasurer for the non-profit, said.

In July 2017, Balmforth was walking her dog along South Road in Exeter when she was hit and killed by a car. She would have turned 31 last Sunday.

The driver, Shannon Holden, 26, of Coventry, fled the scene. She was arrested a couple of days later and charged with failure to stop, death resulting.

In 2019, Holden rejected the state’s offer that she serve four years in prison and opted instead for a trial. She’s due in court for a pre-trial hearing later this week.

Balmforth’s family asked Alemida to speak with the media on their behalf during this difficult time. 

“It’s been four years, and it is time to bring justice for Sarah,” Almeida said. “We are all missing her so deeply, and we feel the family has been through enough. Having to attend court just reminds them of that life taken, that terrible tragedy.”

Almeida said it was only fitting they build a barn in Balmforth’s honor, as a place where the work she was passionate about can continue. The effort started shortly after Balmforth’s death and has continued slowly over the years.

“Sarah loved animals,” she said. “Anyone who knew her, she always had her dog with her.”

The base of the barn is done, but Almeida said there’s still plenty of work to do inside. She said they’re hopeful they’ll be able to host an unveiling ceremony once it’s completed this summer.

Once the barn is completed, Almeida said animals who are brought to the nonprofit will stay there.

Anyone who wants to help fund the barn’s construction and eventual upkeep can donate here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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