MONT VERNON —
A Mont Vernon man continues to fight for his life in a Taiwan hospital after suffering third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body in a massive water-park explosion.
Family and friends are rallying around Alex Haas, 26, who was among nearly 500 people injured last Saturday at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
“I know he’ll pull through, and we just want to be there for him when he does,” said his brother Ben Haas, who spent Wednesday scrambling to get an expedited passport as he plans to leave for Taiwan Thursday morning to join his parents and other siblings at Alex’s bedside.
Alex Haas grew up in Mont Vernon and has spent the past year in Taiwan teaching English to young children.
He was visiting the water park Saturday when the fire broke out. The cause remains under investigation, but authorities are reportedly investigating the possibility that colored cornstarch powder ignited in the crowd.
Ben said his brother’s vital signs have improved and he’s not as dependent on a ventilator, but the burns are severe and he still has swelling on his body and fluid in his lungs. His blood-oxygen level is also low.
Alex’s family doesn’t know what his prognosis will be, but they’re trying to remain optimistic despite the grim picture painted by Taiwanese doctors.
“We’re trying to stay strong as long as we can. As long as his vitals are stable and they’re improving there’s hope,” said Ben Haas, adding that his brother would likely have to remain hospitalized in Taiwan for months before he could be returned to the United States for additional treatment.
Last weekend’s explosion came just as Alex Haas was about to mark one year since he arrived in Taiwan to teach and immerse himself in the Taiwanese culture. He was supposed to stay for a year but decided he wanted to spend another year there.
“He was excited for the opportunity to be able to teach in Taiwan and be able to live and breathe the culture. He always wanted to go and he found employment that allowed him a lot of freedom,” said Melanie Tamposi of Hollis, Haas’ cousin who is helping out at the Haas home in Mont Vernon while the family is in Taiwan.
Up until last weekend, Haas had been enjoying his time in Taiwan and loved spending time with the kids.
“He’s just one of those kids you can instantly love. Everyone gravitated toward his personality,” she said.
Meanwhile, more than $40,000 was raised by Wednesday night through a GoFundMe online fundraising campaign called the “Alex Haas’ Medical Fund.”
The money will be used to help with medical expenses.
A Facebook page was also created for people to share positive thoughts, including a "give back" event scheduled for July 7
at the Chili's restaurant on Amherst Street in Nashua, where Haas used to work.
Friends plan to hang some of his artwork at Bradley University, where Haas attended college, in a show of support.
“This couldn’t have happened to a nicer individual,” Ben Haas firstname.lastname@example.org