Hundreds of friends say good-bye to fallen teens

The friends of Tim Coleman and Alex Haas showed up in force to the joint memorial service at Hilltop Community Church on Saturday. The 2005 Douglas High School graduates, who died together on a Zephyr Cove beach, had hundreds of best friends.

They were everybody's best friends, said Pat Propster, pastor of Calvary Chapel of Carson City.

"Even more than the 'Friends' on TV, you've taken it to a whole new level," Propster said to the families, compadres and teammates who helped support the Coleman and Haas families since the announcement of the young men's deaths July 22.

"God sent us angels in the form of friends - you loved a family in need," said Alex Haas' mother Leslie. "Our son lives in you, and when we see you, we see him."

The church's main building was filled with about 400 people wearing flowers and Hawaiian shirts. At least 100 more viewed a video feed from a second building.

Videos were presented of the two from babies to young men. A strong man pose seemed to be a popular stance for both Coleman and Haas throughout their lives - from young boys playing sports, to young men graduating from high school and spending time with family and friends.

A presentation set to the music of Shinedown's "Simple Man," showed Tim Coleman to be the happiest with a ball in his hand or with his arm around his friends or his sister Cassie.

"We have a choice to make this a tragedy or a turning point in our lives," said Cassie Coleman.

She spoke of their close relationship and how her brother sensed when she was low and would call out of the blue. They had a chance to be together two nights before he died.

"We got some time to talk, to say 'I love you,' and for me to give him chocolate chip cookies," she said. "I got to say good-bye in a way.

"What will make the pain go away is the love we have for my brother - we'll get through it together."

The impact Coleman and Haas had in people's lives was emphasized as well as the impact they continue to have.

"Alex's great giftedness is what not 'was,' but 'is,'" said Alex Haas' brother, Roland.

The cause of death of the two friends, both 19, is not known pending results of toxicology reports by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, but the families believe Tim Coleman and Alex Haas died during a lightning storm on the night of July 21.

Roland Haas said a double rainbow filling the sky from one end to the other appeared after the "most magnificent storm I've ever seen. It was no coincidence they were taken on this night."

After the family learned of the young men's deaths, a single rainbow and a beam of light appeared, pointing in the direction of Lake Tahoe.

"The rays of light looked like heaven to me," said Roland Haas. "It was a sign from Tim and Alex saying, 'We made it, we're here.'"

His video of a trip made the week before the young men's deaths showed roads going into the horizon and pines trees pointing skyward to infinity.

"We waste so much time on holding grudges when it's so easy to forgive and love each other," he said. "We can learn something from Alex and Tim: It's very important to be close to your family. You don't know when someone is going to be taken, when another storm can come."


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