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A woman traveling from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom with her family on Friday died in her sleep on the flight, a friend said.
A GoFundMe page seeking help for her family says Helen Rhodes “was found unresponsive a few hours into the flight,” which she had been on with her husband and two children. There were eight hours left of the flight.
“Although this was extremely traumatizing to the family, they all had time to say what they needed to say to her. Needless to mention, they are devastated. This loss is unimaginable,” friend Jayne Jeje wrote on the page.
The flight landed for a stop in Germany, and Helen’s body was kept in Frankfurt while the rest of the family continued to the UK. After living in Hong Kong for 15 years, Jeje wrote, the family was set to move back to the UK.
It was going to be the first time Rhodes saw her family in person since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are still in disbelief and shock about the sudden passing of our dearest friend Helen Rhodes, whose life has touched many people in Hong Kong and the UK,” Jeje said.
The UK Foreign Office told the Guardian in a statement that they “are supporting the family of a British woman who died on a flight to Frankfurt and are in contact with the local authorities.”
The GoFundMe campaign says it is raising money for “any unexpected costs” related to Rhodes’s funeral, support for her children, and “a legacy in honour of Helen so that her loved ones will feel how much she was loved and appreciated by many who were blessed with her kindness, friendship and generous help.”
As of Tuesday morning, it had raised £21,486 – approximately $26,005 – exceeding its goal.