Family mourning woman killed in crash on Highway 168 in Fresno

Helena Rhinehart leaves behind four children, all under the age of 15.

Elisa Navarro Image
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Family mourning woman killed in crash on Highway 168 in Fresno
The woman killed following a crash on Highway 168 in east central Fresno has been identified.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The family of a Clovis woman who was killed in a crash early Tuesday morning is stunned over her loss.

On Tuesday morning, 37-year-old Helena Rhinehart was driving home after a shift at Community Regional Medical Center when she was hit by another car, killing her.

"I don't really remember the phone call. I just remember them telling me she was in an accident and that she had passed away, and they had worked on her for a long time," recalled Annalee Rhinehart, Helana's mother.

It was a phone call that Annalee says feels unreal.

Her sister, Olivia, says Helena's last conversation was with one of her good friends and co-worker.

"They were having a conversation, and it got caught off mid-sentence. He heard the accident happening, and he yelled for her and went driving around to find the scene. He went there and saw the car," explained Olivia.

Officer Mike Salas with the California Highway Patrol says it was a little after 3 a.m. when Helena was heading eastbound on Highway 168 near Ashlan Avenue.

Salas says 23-year-old Terik Jones was driving a Dodge Charger when he lost control in the lane next to her and hit Helena's Nissan Altima.

Jones was transported to CRMC with major injuries.

Salas says drugs or alcohol were not factors in the crash.

He says the investigation is ongoing, but Jones could face a misdemeanor manslaughter charge.

"Anything can happen in the blink of an eye. And that is why we repeat that 100% of your attention should be while driving," said Salas.

Helena's family says that while nothing will bring her back, they will never forget the laughs and joy she carried with her every single day.

"I want her to be remembered as a loving, caring, kind mother, friend, daughter, cousin who everyone liked. She had no hate for anybody," Olivia said.

Family remembered Helena in a statement, writing, in part:

"Helena was life. Her smile was enough to brighten your day. If she was having a bad day, you wouldn't know it. Helena was a motivator and someone I could call when I needed to be put in check and I would do the same. Helena was the glue in our family. Her spirit will live on through everyone who knows and loves her."

She leaves behind four children, all under the age of 15.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Helena's family.

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