Local man hurt in Taiwan
MONT VERNON – Friends and family are raising money for 26-year-old Alex Haas, who was seriously injured in a fire at a Taiwan water park last week.
According to information on the GoFundMe website, Haas’ parents, Leslie and Roger "Ed" Haas, are now with Alex in Taiwan and their son "will have to endure many painful months ahead … and is in need of expensive skin graft treatments and has already undergone emergency surgery to save his legs." He has two brothers, Ben and Chris, and a sister, Dana.
Alex has been in Taiwan since last summer, teaching English with the HESS International Educational Group. He earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. Before he went to Tawain to teach English he was working as a server at Chili’s restaurant in Amherst.
Sheri Nivens, of Mont Vernon, said Alex was a classmate of her daughter, Jessica, from kindergarten through Souhegan High School, had a big role in her life and "was always there when she needed a friend.
The June 26 fire injured more than 500 people, according to news reports, and it was sparked by an accidental explosion of a colored theatrical powder thrown from the stage in front of about 1,000 people.
About 1,000 spectators had been at the Color Play Asia event at the Formosa Fun Coast water park, just outside the capital Taipei. At least five people including workers and technicians were arrested in connection with the accident, according to Al Jazeera, which quoted a spokesperson for the New Taipei City fire department:
"Our initial understanding is this explosion and fire … was caused by the powder spray. It could have been due to the heat of the lights on the stage," the paper quoted the spokesperson saying.
The GoFundMe site says "this has been Alex’s first time to Asia and over the past 11 months he has been reporting back to his family and friends with stories of his students, new friends, travel experience, and strange food encounters! With eternal optimism and a contagious laugh, Alex and his quirks radiate light into any conversation, party, or art classroom he finds himself in."
There is also a Facebook page set up for Alex.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@nashua telegraph.com.