PLANO -- He lived his life to inspire others, but Curtis Tomah died in fiery crash involving a drunk driver on June.

His family is from Africa, and now his friends are raising money to help them bury and properly say goodbye.

It just hurts -- no other way to describe it," said friend Trey Gilyard.

Tomah's friends have been struggling for two weeks to come to terms with his death.

A lot of people say you lost a friend, but I think for us, that's a brother," Randal Rogers said.

Tomah, 24, was killed when an alleged drunk driver slammed into the back of his car on Preston Road in Plano. The car caught fire, and Tomah was trapped.

At the end of the day, it's heartbreaking, really," Gilyard said.

His friends say Tomah was a gentle and loving soul, who spent his life helping others.

Curtis was the first one to get me to go to school, college, first bank account," Rogers said.

He was constantly encouraging those around him to be better, and to go to church.

First thing I said when I came was, 'Man, this is the greatest feeling I've ever had, and I didn't want to miss a Sunday," Andre Wagle said of the first time Tomah took him to church.

Tomah was originally born in Africa, and moved to the United States with his family. Several years ago, his family moved back to Africa to start a business. Tomah stayed to live out his dream of starting a business in the U.S.

His friends are trying to raise money now to fly his family back for his funeral. They are accepting donations at this link.

Being here, being around his body - maybe his spirit - and around all his friends that he grew up with, that would be huge for family to be able to make it," Wagle said.

They'll bury Tomah on what would have been his 25th birthday next week.

His friends have raised half the $10,000 they need to bring Tomah's family here to properly say goodbye to a man who touched so many lives.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

Read or Share this story: http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/collin-county/2014/08/19/14067458/