A mother of two traveling back to the UK to see her parents died in her sleep on a flight with her husband and two children, according to a grieving friend.
Helen Rhodes and her family were flying from Hong Kong to the UK on Aug. 5 when she “passed away in her sleep,” friends said.
“We are still in disbelief and shock about the sudden passing of our dearest friend whose life has touched many people in Hong Kong and the UK,” wrote friend Jayne Jeje on a GoFundMe post.
“Helen was found unresponsive a few hours into the flight. Despite all efforts, Helen was not able to be resuscitated.”
Jeje added: “This all unfolded in front of her children. For the remaining 8 hours of the flight, Helen lay in a breathless sleep in her seat.”
Her husband, Simon, and young kids, Nathan and Emma, are “devastated” by the “unimaginable” loss, Jeje wrote. The plane stopped in Germany where Rhodes’ body was left in Frankfurt while her family had to travel the rest of the way without her.
“Although this was extremely traumatizing to the family, they all had time to say what they needed to say to her,” she said.
The UK Foreign Office told the Guardian, “We are supporting the family of a British woman who died on a flight to Frankfurt and are in contact with the local authorities.”
Rhodes lived in Hong Kong for 15 years, but she and her family were planning on moving back to the UK to start a “new chapter,” Jeje noted. She was a midwife by profession who was described by Jeje as the “pulse” of her local community in Hong Kong and “one of a kind.”
“Helen was excited and nervous about the move, but looked forward to seeing her family back home, as she had not seen her family or aging parents since the pandemic began,” Jeje wrote. “Sadly, she never got to see them again.”
The fundraising page that has raised more than $21,000 as of Monday will go toward funeral costs and additional support for her family.