The father of a woman who died after being in a coma for 14 months has paid tribute to his daughter who he describes as a bubbly person who brought joy to a lot of people.

Grieving parents of a young woman who died - 14 months after she suffered horrific injuries in a road accident while cycling - will scatter her ashes at her favourite swimming spot.

Lucy Rentz, 28, died on September 4 following a long battle after the accident in the US which left her in a coma.

Now, her parents John and Rosalie Rentz face taking her ashes to the Coromandel spot where she swam as a child, near the family home at Te Mata.

John Rentz told the Bay of Plenty Times his daughter had died in his arms while he was helping her with respiratory therapy at Tauranga Hospital.

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"It was a shock. It didn't really occur to me she stopped breathing. Thankfully there was a doctor right there. He didn't need to say anything. His eyes told me everything I needed to know."

Mr Rentz said the family were grieving but took comfort Lucy was no longer in pain.

"We wanted to keep her here in hopes of a recovery but there was no medical prognosis promising that."

The nightmare for the Rentz family began after Lucy (pictured) was hit by a Landcruiser while visiting Denver in Colorado on July 1, 2015. Photo / Supplied
The nightmare for the Rentz family began after Lucy (pictured) was hit by a Landcruiser while visiting Denver in Colorado on July 1, 2015. Photo / Supplied

The nightmare for the Rentz family began after Lucy was hit by a Landcruiser while visiting Denver in Colorado on July 1, 2015.

She had previously lived in the city for two years and had gone back to visit friends, and then planned to attend a family gathering.

"She had gone out with friends that evening, on the way back to where she was staying she stopped into a supermarket to pick up some groceries," Mr Rentz said.

"We think she thought nobody was around, it was after midnight, she went through a intersection on her bike and was hit."

She sustained horrific injuries to the left side of her body as a result of the accident which also left her in a coma.

It took 16 hours for the news to reach Mr Rentz and his wife, Rosalie, who were in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The pair arrived in the United States on July 4.

"They thought any day she would wake up when we first arrived in the US. None of the CAT scans showed any signs of significant damage to the brain. She was expected to wake up."

Lucy Rentz parents John and Rosalie Rentz face taking her ashes to the Coromandel spot where she swam as a child, near the family home at Te Mata. Photo / Lucy Rentz Facebook
Lucy Rentz parents John and Rosalie Rentz face taking her ashes to the Coromandel spot where she swam as a child, near the family home at Te Mata. Photo / Lucy Rentz Facebook

Doctors hoped when she came off sedatives she would wake. She never did.

A MRI on July 10 confirmed their worst fears. Lucy had sustained severe damage to her upper brain stem - the part of the brain that controls consciousness.

They were told it would be highly unlikely Lucy would regain consciousness, Mr Rentz said.
"We were devastated, it was massive blow."

Mr Rentz said that before the accident, his daughter was "Miss Congeniality" with a zest for life.

Lucy was a very bubbly person who brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, Mr Rentz said.

"She would walk into a room and her bright smile would light it up."

"She got the equivalent of a Miss Congeniality award when she was younger and always fought for the underdog."

They moved Lucy home to New Zealand on July 21, 2015 on a private jet which doubled as an ICU. She was admitted to Waikato Hospital for three weeks and then moved to the Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation in Ranui, West Auckland for four months.

During this time Lucy went back to hospital 12 times, often for respiratory infections.

The family was eventually told nothing more could be done for their little girl to prevent more aspirations and infections. Two days before Christmas last year Lucy was moved to Radius Matua, in Tauranga.

She was admitted to Tauranga Hospital on September 2 and diagnosed with pneumonia the following day.

She died the next day.

"We never gave up hope. We all continued to pray, hope and believe for a miracle," Mr Rentz said.

"We had all been hoping, praying and believing for a miracle but eternal life is a miracle too."

Two services were held for Lucy over the past week, one in Tauranga and one in Thames, with loved ones sharing emotional and heartfelt tributes.