The pastor of a Federal Way church is slowly recovering from critical injuries he suffered after being pinned to a tree by a UPS truck.
Mark Haukaas is expected to survive following the accident, which took place about 7:45 p.m. Dec. 14 in the 36000 block of 1st Avenue South. The Federal Way resident was working part time as a UPS helper, delivering packages for the Christmas season. The UPS truck reportedly went over an embankment, ejecting Haukaas before pinning him against a tree for nearly 40 minutes. Rescue crews had to use the jaws of life. The truck's driver suffered minor injuries, according to a police report.
The Federal Way Police Department's major accident team responded to the incident and is conducting an investigation. The cause of the accident is unknown at this time.
Haukaas, 53, has been undergoing multiple surgeries at Harborview Medical Center. His injuries include two collapsed lungs, three broken ribs, multiple broken bones in his face, a fractured wrist and a cracked vertebrae in his neck, according to longtime friend Margaret Sackett.
"He is going to be OK. We think he's going to live, but he has a really long way to go," Sackett said, noting hopeful signs of recovery. "He recognizes when people are there he has been alert at times."
On Saturday, he was alert enough to ask for his wife, Leeza. The couple has been married since July 2010.
"He realized his wife was there, and he held her hand for 10 minutes," Sackett said. "He would not let go of her hand."
About a year and a half ago, Haukaas founded Maranatha Grace Assembly in Federal Way. The church has about 25 members and meets at Lakota Middle School. Don Tuggle will help lead the church while Haukaas recovers. The two have known each other more than 30 years and attended Bible college together.
"I've been up there almost every day since last Thursday morning… I've seen great improvement each day," Tuggle said of his friend's condition. "I asked if he wanted me to take over the church, and he nodded his head and gave me the thumbs sign."
Tuggle said the church's congregation will carry on as if Haukaas were there.
"I said, 'Mark, hurry up and get well so you can come back and take control of the ship,'" Tuggle said. "He's gonna pull through it. We've got faith in God that he's gonna pull through it."
A donation fund is being set up at Key Bank locations. People may donate at any branch to the "Mark Haukaas Benefit Fund" and account number 470051012123. To learn more, contact Margaret Sackett at email@example.com.