Susan Barrantes, mother of the Duchess of York, has been killed in a car crash in Argentina, dealing the former Sarah Ferguson another cruel blow just a year after her former sister-in-law Princess Diana died in a Paris crash.

The duchess, or "Fergie," ex-wife of Queen Elizabeth II's second son, Prince Andrew, heard the news early Sunday while on vacation in Italy.She flew into London's Gatwick Airport late Sunday afternoon and spent two hours at Sunninghill Park, the mansion she shares with her former husband, before returning to Gatwick on Sunday night to continue on to Argentina.

The duchess's mother settled in Argentina in 1975 with her second husband, the late Hector Bar-ran-tes, an Argentine professional polo player

"She is devastated," spokeswoman Kate Waddington said of the duchess.

Barrantes, 61, was killed instantly Saturday night when the Rover she was driving collided with a van on a rural road near Tres Lomas, about 310 miles southwest of the capital, Buenos Aires, police said.

The collision was near the ranch El Pucara, where she raised polo ponies. She also had a TV station in Buenos Aires.

The Rover was left a heap of twisted metal, shattered glass and plastic. However, Barrantes' passenger, nephew by marriage Rafael Barrantes, 25, escaped with minor injuries.

The driver of the other car, Jose Maria Rodriguez, suffered a broken ankle, police said.