Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Tributes flowing for man killed in Whenuapai crash

Colombian tennis coach Omar Hoyos, 25, was killed in a crash north of Auckland on Thursday. Photo / Supplied
Colombian tennis coach Omar Hoyos, 25, was killed in a crash north of Auckland on Thursday. Photo / Supplied

Family and friends of a man killed in a crash at Whenuapai north of Auckland on Thursday have paid tribute to him, saying he had a "massive heart and cheeky laugh".

Omar David Garcia Hoyos, 25, was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Brigham Creek Rd just after midday on Thursday.

One other person had minor injuries in the crash but did not need to be taken to hospital.

Hoyos' family and friends are devastated by his death and spoke to the Herald ahead of his funeral on Tuesday.

His family said no words could describe what Hoyos meant to them.

"Oms had a massive heart and a smile that lit up the lives of those he knew," said a family spokesperson.

"Our son and brother was vibrant, passionate and fun-loving.

"He will live in our hearts forever."

His closest mates, Troi Norman and Rizhan Eskerie, said Hoyos would be remembered as a brother to his wide group of friends and a treasured soul to his extremely close family.

"Oms was one of those people who touched lives," the pair said in a statement sent to the Herald.

"It didn't matter who you were or where you came from, Omar wanted to sit down and get to know you.

"He loved people and had the special quality of being able to connect with people almost instantly."

They said Hoyos was "so proud of his Colombian heritage" and his work as a tennis coach for kids.

"It became a joke among his closest friends that the first thing anyone knew about him was that he was a tennis coach - his passion for his work and his ability to teach was an example to all of us," the friends said.

"He was a role model not just to his younger brother Hernan, with whom he shared a very special bond, but to his friends as well.

"Omar's loving and caring personality and his commitment to his friends in times of need are a true reflection of the Garcia family, who are special beyond words.

"It's hard to describe, but Oms truly had a smile that could light up a room.

"It was impossible to ever be mad at him - he was such a gentle soul and that smile could melt any heart."

They said they could never explain how special Hoyos was.

"You will never come across anyone who loved the people around him as much as Oms did."

Hoyos' life will be celebrated at a ceremony on Tuesday 16 May at 3.30pm at Dils, 185 Schnapper Rock Rd, Albany. A gathering will follow at West Harbour Tennis Club.

- NZ Herald

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