A tragic rollerblading accident in North Vancouver has left an Argentinian ballerina in a coma – and family and friends are now fundraising to bring the young dancer’s parents to her side.

Lucila Munaretto, 20, was rollerblading around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday when she failed to stop at the intersection of East Osborne Road and Lonsdale Avenue when coming down a steep hill.

Police say Munaretto went into the busy road and smashed into the side of a mini-van. The driver offered first aid assistance to the young dancer, who seriously injured her head and body.

Munaretto is currently in ICU at Lions Gate Hospital, where she is in a medically-induced coma after undergoing surgeries to stabilize her spine and reconstruct her jaw. Witnesses say she was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

“Everyone who is close to Lucila is extremely shocked by the news, and trying desperately to do anything they can to help her,” says Katie Bois, rehearsal director at Pacific DanceArts, home to Coastal City Ballet where Munaretto trains.

“Lucila is a beautiful dancer…she is the most beautiful girl you’ll ever meet. She’s always passionate about what she does… and was willing to move far away from her family to pursue [dance].”

Munaretto came to Vancouver in 2012 when a scout from Coastal City Ballet offered her a scholarship. Her family had previously moved from their native Argentina to Brazil after she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Bolshoi Theatre School.

A Go-Fund-Me page has been created to bring her family – described by Bois as lower means - from Brazil to Vancouver, and to help cover the cost of Munaretto’s recovery. More than $22,000 had been raised by Sunday afternoon, just over a fifth of the estimated $100,000 rehabiliation costs. 

Lucila’s younger sister Florencia Munaretto, 18, also lives in North Vancouver with the same host family. She says their mother arrived in Vancouver Sunday morning, while their father and two younger siblings remain in Brazil because of financial constraints.

“Lucila loves dancing, and she is always trying to figure out how to improve,” says her younger sister. “Everybody believes she’s going to be fine, because she is always running after her dreams.”

The full extent of Munaretto’s injuries is not yet known, but doctors say she is recovering better than expected. Host family member Tom Orlowski, who has billeted the young dancer on and off for three years, is hopeful she will make a full recovery.

“Lucila is a person of extraordinary character, is extremely hard working and incredibly charming,” he says. “She’s moving along but she’s got a long way to go. Lucila is a real fighter…if anyone can come back from this, she can.”

Anyone interested in supporting Lucila’s medical recovery can donate on her Go-Fund-Me page.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst