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Originally published December 22, 2009 at 11:00 PM | Page modified December 23, 2009 at 9:30 PM

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Sgt. Nicholas Hausner has gift for training fellow deputies

Colleagues say Sgt. Nicholas Hausner, who was wounded in a domestic-violence call near Eatonville, has a gift for training fellow deputies.

Seattle Times staff reporter

With his family and friends congregated around his hospital bed Tuesday, Pierce County sheriff's Sgt. Nick Hausner worried about his colleague's health.

Hausner, a 20-year veteran, and Deputy Kent Mundell were wounded Monday night when they responded to a domestic-violence call in Eatonville. Hausner is recovering from his injuries at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, and Mundell was in critical condition Tuesday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Hausner, 43, and his wife, Melanie, live in Eatonville. They have two children, a 12-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter.

Larry Erb, Melanie's uncle, said that he spent time with Hausner at Madigan on Tuesday.

"I saw Nick this morning; he's in good spirits," Erb said Tuesday. "He's looking fine. He's actually more worried about his partner than himself."

Melanie Hausner appeared calm and collected at the hospital — something Erb attributes to her previous job working as a 911 dispatcher. Erb said his daughter was watching the Hausners' two children Tuesday.

"For the situation, he's doing quite well," Erb said.

In the more than 20 years since he met Hausner, Erb said their families have regularly spent holidays together. He admires Hausner for his devotion to work and his family.

"He's a real family guy, a real salt-of-the-earth person who would help anybody," Erb said. "He's a throwback to the good old days when families were close-knit and tight."

Hausner knew everything about his children and was always present for events in their lives.

Donna Baker, who lives across the street from the Hausners, described Hausner as a great neighbor, someone who would cut her lawn, power-wash her roof and remind her to shut her garage door when she forgot to close it.

Keri Guarez, a clerk at Gary's Video store in Eatonville, teared up Tuesday when thinking of Hausner, a regular customer.

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"He's very fun-loving, very kind. I think he just wants to make people happy. If you're having a bad day, he tries to cheer you up," Guarez said.

Lakewood Police Chief Brett Farrar, who has known Hausner almost 20 years, said that when he heard about the shootings — just weeks after four of his officers were slain on Nov. 29 — he was in disbelief.

"He is a good deputy. A smart, sharp guy and a good family man," Farrar said.

Farrar also said Hausner has endless patience.

Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ed Troyer said Hausner helped transition deputies from handwritten reports to learning to type reports on laptops inside their police cruisers.

Hausner dealt with the flak from the old-timers, deputies who didn't want to change over to the new report-writing system, said Farrar, who worked at the Pierce County Sheriff's Department for 15 years.

In 2002, Hausner even won a Sheriff's Department award for coordinating training for the new system, called "Enforcer."

"Nick did a whole lot of training. He had a gift for that," Farrar said today. "He told a whole bunch of us which buttons to push."

The Mountain Detachment, where Mundell and Hausner worked, is sort of its own separate world within the Sheriff's Department, said Lt. Cynthia Fajardo, president of the Pierce County Deputy Sheriff's Guild.

Those who work there are a small, tight-knit group, with big responsibilities. Often, there are just two or three deputies patrolling an area that stretches all the way from Mount Rainier to the Nisqually Valley, more than an hour's drive.

"It's an amazingly huge area," she said. "One officer can be up at Ashford, the other one down in Roy. They're out there by themselves. They've come to rely so much on each other ... They have to be close because of the amount of responsibility they have."

Jennifer Smith, owner of Truly Scrumptious Bakery & Cafe in Eatonville, said both Hausner and Mundell were regular customers.

"We're just praying for their families right now," an emotional Smith said this morning.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times staff reporters Hal Bernton in Eatonville and Maureen O'Hagan and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

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