Friends, family, and parishioners gathered at Bethany Baptist Church in Richmond Saturday morning to say goodbye to Pastor Tom Cheung.
Mourners remembered Cheung, who came to Canada from Hong Kong 20 years ago and headed the Port Moody Pacific Grace MB Church, as “genuine,” “righteous,” “fair,” and “kind.”
The scores of people in attendance at the ‘celebration of life’ service were a testament to how many lives Cheung touched, said his friend and former seminary instructor, Pastor Philip Tse.
“Tom was a very nice man,” Tse said. “He helped people a lot.”
Cheung was killed in a fiery crash near the Peace Arch border crossing on May 2. He was behind the wheel of a Toyota Sienna minivan that was involved in a crash with a Porsche Cayenne SUV.
The impact of the collision caused the Toyota to erupt in flames. Cheung, who was alone in the vehicle, died at the scene.
Surrey RCMP have been investigating the crash, but have so far not brought any charges.
Tse said the last month has been challenging for Cheung’s family as they dealt with both the grief and the mundane logistics that come with a sudden death.
“For the last month, I think they were in a state of coping,” Tse said. “It’s kind of ambivalent because we don’t know what is going on and how come that person was driving so fast in a 30 km zone. So there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. So the community and the family is just also still in shock.”
In the days after the crash, a GoFundMe campaign was set up to help Cheung’s family deal with expenses. As of Saturday afternoon, nearly $140,000 had been raised, despite initial problems with a copycat fundraising page apparently set up by scammers.
Tse said the family is grateful for the help from the legitimate fundraiser.
“Tom was the only breadwinner for the family, so when he’s gone and not much money left and looking into the financial future, it was pretty tight,” he said. “So, they were very thankful that the GoFundMe had been set up so that would be helping them to go through their journey right now.”
As the community continues to mourn and await answers from the RCMP, Tse said he hopes friends and family will continue to come to the aid of those Cheung left behind.
“I would ask the community to continue to support them, to journey with them, and at the same time, to give them time and space to heal,” Tse said. “Many people will say, ‘You may get through it, however, you may not be able to get over it,’ because they have a relationship, a husband and a father, who is gone. They cannot find him again. So this journey could be really long.”