My condolences as well.
Regarding helmets, unfortunately they are "uncool" and you are never going to get a general consensus on them, but that aside, most fatalities wouldn't require a helmet if they hadn't been in a stupid spot to begin with.
Unfortunately, most fatal kiting accidents lack common sense.
IMO you shouldn't be practicing on a beach with a kite strong enough to lift or even strongly drag you.
If you want to practice, get out in the water, if you can't get out in the water, get a smaller kite.
My instructor had me 200 yards out, and it was a PITA walking back out after each time I practiced, but it really saved my ass.
One time I knew that noon was "neutral", however, being new, I didn't realize if you jam to noon it would loft you.
I was about to get in trouble with the kite, and since noon was "safe" and "neutral", i cranked it as hard as I could, a second later I was 12 feet in the air
On land it would have been a disaster, where we were it just startled me for a moment.
It isn't just a newbie issue either, I see veterans coming on shore fully hooked with almost onshore winds. It is a minor gamble, but a gamble nonetheless.
I will give anyone a hundred bucks if they can go to a beach with a bunch of regulars and strong wind and watch for a couple of hours without spotting several potentially fatal stupid moves.
It happens everywhere all the time...