CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man recovering in Taiwan after being severely burned in an explosion at a water park there last month says he’s grateful for all the get-well wishes.
Speaking in a hoarse voice from his hospital bed, Alex Haas says in a recent brief video message that he’s “so happy to have so many awesome people and love” sent his way. Haas, who spent his birthday Saturday in the hospital, is covered in bandages, save for his face, which is clear.
The 27-year-old Mont Vernon man, who was teaching in Taipei, suffered the burns when a firestorm erupted after a flammable powder substance blew up over a park stage on June 28. Three people died and more than 500 were injured.
The video is posted on a crowdfunding website.
“I know it’s my birthday, but we can all find a reason to celebrate the love and joy we share with each other,” Haas says, smiling. “Have a great one. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you guys soon.”
His cousin, Melanie Tamposi, who set up the crowdfunding account, said it was emotional watching the video. She felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and enthusiasm.
“He looks like himself,” she said Wednesday, “and I think that’s very comforting for me and the rest of the family that’s back over here.” She said Haas’ parents and three siblings are with him in Taiwan.
Tamposi said her cousin, who loves art and Asian culture, left for Taiwan a year ago.
He was wearing swim shorts and flip-flops when he visited the water park. He suffered burns on about 90 percent of his body, with the worst on his hands, arms, feet and lower legs.
Haas has undergone several skin graft operations and faces years of physical and emotional recovery. He can move his arms and legs and sit up. It’s not clear when he can be brought back to the United States.
“The most important thing is that he survives this, and we’re very, very optimistic that that will happen,” Tamposi said. “That wasn’t the case early on. We were given some grim reports. But we continued praying, and maintaining a high level of positivity and doing what we could, being so far away.”
T-shirts with Haas’ self-portrait have been made to help raise money for his care and signs have been posted in his hometown. A carwash fundraiser is scheduled Saturday at the Chili’s restaurant in Nashua where Haas used to work as a server.
Adam Tarbox, an assistant manager at the restaurant who worked with Haas for several years, said it was great seeing the video.
“He’s always been the most positive person I’ve ever known,” Tarbox said. “It’s not surprising to see the video that’s all about other people, and not himself.”
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