It could be considered a heroic death as Richard Helms died trying to help a stranger. The 60-year-old Clifton man was on his way home Wednesday after spending the Christmas holidays in Marion, Mass. with his daughter and only grandson.
State Police reported that at about 9:45 in the evening as he was driving along westbound Interstate 78 in South Whitehall Township, he saw a woman in need. The woman’s car was involved in an accident so he got out offering his assistance. It happened that a car sliding out of control on ice struck him. He was immediately transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No one else was hurt, police said.
The fatality identified as Richard Helms died from multiple blunt-force injuries and his death was ruled accidental by the county coroner, they said. The accident is still being investigated.
Kira Helms said her father had to head back that Wednesday despite of bad weather as his rental car was due to be returned that day. She was worried about him, so he checked in with her from time to time on his cell phone. The last time they talked, the father was in Pennsylvania and it was raining hard. The last words father and daughter spoke to each other were simple, but ultimately the best way to say goodbye was to say, I love you.
Helms said that his father was a good man and always willing to help others in need. Aside from his live for people, he had special affection for his mixed lab, called Rancid whom he lovingly called Puppy.
Puppy had made the trip to Massachusetts with his owner and was still sitting in the rental car along I-78 when a tow truck driver with Getz Service Station arrived late Wednesday to help clear the crash scene.
The driver, Joe Kriebel, said that he couldn’t bear the thought of the dog going to a pound, after losing his master. He needed to be in a place where he could be loved and treated like he needed to be treated.
State police allowed him to take the dog home and put him in touch with Helms’ family. He is trying to find a way to get Puppy down to Hollywood, Fla., where Helms’ two other daughters and wife live. He would try to get the dog back of his owner’s family.
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