88-year-old woman who died in minor crash had been living in car

88-year-old woman who died in minor crash had been living in car


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SALT LAKE CITY — Investigators from the Utah Highway Patrol are continuing to investigate the death of an 88-year-old woman, who died in December after what originally seemed like a minor traffic accident.

On Dec. 26, Helen F. Vanschoonhoven, 88, was rear-ended on I-80 near 1500 West by a 70-year-old woman, according to the UHP. Both cars had to be towed and Vanschoonhoven was taken to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.

The crash, however, wasn’t severe and Vanschoonhoven was originally expected to survive, the UHP stated.

But because of her age and complications with prior health issues, Vanschoonhoven died four days later as a result of injuries, said UHP Sgt. Nick Street.

As investigators tried to search for next of kin information, a sad story of Vanschoonhoven’s life began to unfold. Troopers learned that she was homeless and living out of her car at the time of the crash, Street said.

Notifying family members of her death became a challenge as it was discovered that the last time anyone who knew her had talked to her was in 1976, Street said. It was learned that Vanschoonhoven used to live in Rexburg, Idaho, and a distant relative was eventually found, he said.

The woman who hit Vanschoonhoven was cited for following another car too close and not having a valid license, according to Street. The investigation into the case was ongoing as of Friday.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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