Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Woman killed changing tyre: A mother's love tragically lost

Leigh Antoinette Rhodes, 60, died in Tauranga Hospital.
Leigh Antoinette Rhodes, 60, died in Tauranga Hospital.

The family of a Tauranga woman killed two weeks ago in a tragic road accident says she "brought light to so many lives" and will be "missed beyond measure".

Leigh Antoinette Rhodes, 60, died in Tauranga Hospital after she and two others were struck by a vehicle while changing a tyre on her car on State Highway 29A two weeks ago.

The trio were hit by a blue Nissan around 4.15pm on Friday, July 29 between Baypark and Maungatapu.

Rhodes' friend, Kenny McCrae, 52, died instantly and her partner Lance Carter was taken to Tauranga Hospital, where he remained in a stable condition this week.

Carter was scheduled to go into surgery on Monday, the day of Rhodes' funeral but threatened to discharge himself from hospital rather than miss it.

"Lance did so well to attend both Kenny's and mum's funeral with ambulance transportation and a nurse to accompany him," Rhodes' daughter Davina Richardson told the Herald on Sunday.

"He was in a lot of pain."

Hundreds attended Rhodes' funeral in Tauranga, a testament to how much she valued her friendships, many of which lasted a lifetime her family said.

The mother and adoring grandmother split from Richardson's father Wayne Rhodes more than a decade ago, but the pair never lost touch.

Over the years the Rhodes' ran a series of small businesses around Northland while raising their two daughters, with Wayne remembering his first wife of 32 years as "the best housewife and mother you can imagine - and then she was a business partner [on top of that]".

"She was everything," he said.

"She was a very strong woman, very loving. She was an entertainer, she just loved people."

His daughters were "going through hell" over the loss of their mother.

"It's stolen two gorgeous people out of our lives."

Richardson, 41, said she was still coming to terms with the shock her mother's death.

"I always thought mum would live forever, and she always thought she would live well into her 90s. Sadly she did not.

"There is no goodbye and I can no longer call to hear my mum's voice or talk to her about life."

Richardson travelled from her home on the Gold Coast to help organise the funeral, returning on Wednesday night "completely exhausted".

She had lived in Australia for the past 20 years but said "mum is always mum regardless of the distance".

"We didn't always agree on things, but I know she is proud of both my sister and myself for the women we have become.

"Mum will be missed beyond measure by my sister and I, her friends and family."

Richardson said her mother's death had brought the family together and reminded them of what was truly important.

She said she saw herself in her mum in the way she tried to make everyone feel valued.

"My dad left a message for me while travelling on the bus to Auckland Airport: travel safe darling daughter. Through your beautiful mother you live to give love just as she did to the world.

"That is what mum did. She brought light to so many lives just by being her."

Richardson and her sister felt truly blessed by the outpouring of love and support they had received.

Police investigations were ongoing.

- Herald on Sunday

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