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OR: Recovery from freak hunting accident leads family to be very thankful

Recovery from freak hunting accident leads family to be very thankful

By SANDRA SWAIN
The Daily Astorian
Thursday, November 27, 2008

As the many members of Astoria's Hauer family gather around their Thanksgiving tables today, they will be especially thankful that Karl Hauer will be celebrating, too. A little over a year ago, Karl miraculously survived a freak accident while deer hunting with his brother Dan and two other men in the woods off Oregon Highway 202, near Simmons Field.

Karl, who lives in Hillsboro with his wife, Heidi, and their four young sons, was raised in Astoria. He visited often, spending time with his parents, Diane and Ed Hauer Jr., his brother Dan's young family and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

But on Oct. 6, 2007, Karl set the butt of his rifle beside a fallen tree, resting the muzzle against his truck while he arranged some gear. The hammer was locked down, but when he grabbed the gun it caught on a branch and a bullet blasted up through his chest and lower jaw. Luckily it missed his heart and his upper jaw as it exited, and just grazed his left brow bone.

But it left a gaping wound on the left side of his chest and did serious damage to the left side of his face.

It was touch and go for awhile as Dan and the other two hunters rushed Karl out of the woods. With help from many others along the way, including a sheriff's deputy, ham radio operators and volunteer firefighters, they made it to Columbia Memorial Hospital. From there, Karl was taken by ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, where he spent almost two weeks.

It's been a long road for Karl, says his father, Ed Hauer, but he's 90 percent recovered. The accident happened just three days after Karl had started work at a new company. Ed says the owners were very understanding and waited six months for him to be able to return to work. He spent the time completing his education at Portland State University and has earned his landscape contracting license.

Ed and Diane will spend Thanksgiving with Dan and his wife Sarah and their three boys, who live just around the corner. Although Karl and Heidi are staying in Hillsboro for the holiday, they will definitely be on everyone's mind as the Hauers gather to give thanks for their blessings.

"This year has been a very humbling year - for our own family, for the economy. A lot of things have happened that bring home the importance of families and neighbors and people who have had tragedies," Ed Hauer says. "It makes us aware we're not alone when bad things happen."  

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