South Lake Tahoe community rallies around Hounsell family after tragic single-vehicle rollover
Update: According to South Lake Tahoe Police Department, a memorial service for Officer Mark Hounsell and his wife, Jeanne Hounsell, will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 at LifePoint Church in Minden. The church is located at 1095 Stephanie Way in Minden, Nev.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Tragedy struck Saturday, Oct. 17, when a single-vehicle rollover east of Fallon, Nev., claimed the lives of a South Lake Tahoe police officer, his wife and a family friend.
Officer Mark Hounsell, his wife Jeanne Hounsell and family friend Laura Fisher were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
The Hounsells’ four children — Tyler, 14, Lance, 11, Emma, 6, and Corbin, 4 — were transported from the scene to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev. for care. According to the South Lake Police Department, the children suffered moderate to serious injuries but are expected to recover.
A crowd-sourcing GoFundMe account is available to help with costs and to support the four Hounsell children at http://www.gofundme.com/hounsellchildren. The goal is to raise at least $30,000 per child. As of noon on Tuesday, Oct. 20, more than $28,000 was promised in total.
Mark and Jeanne Hounsell lived in Minden, Nev. Fisher was a Washington, Ill., resident. Jeanne Hounsell was a Carson City photographer and an active member of Minden’s LifePoint Church, according to The Record-Courier, one of Tahoe Daily Tribune’s sister papers.
LifePoint Church issued a news release on Sunday, Oct. 18, regarding the deaths.
“Today, our church family grieves the loss of two incredible people, Mark and Jeanne Hounsell,” LifePoint Church said. “For times like these there are no words, but our hearts are aching as we realize the tremendous example, legacy, and impact that both Mark and Jeanne have had on our church and community. Please continue to pray for their children, extended family, and many friends in this time of deep loss.”
According to South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler, Hounsell joined the police department on May 19, 2007. Prior to that, he had worked for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada since 1998.
“This tragedy shocks the entire police department, Mark’s friends and all who knew this fine family,” Uhler said in a news release on Sunday, Oct. 18.
Uhler said by phone on Monday, Oct. 19, that Mark Hounsell made a positive impression on the department and on himself.
“Any loss like this in a smaller agency in a small town is always hard because our community knows all of our officers and sees them on a day-to-day basis,” Uhler said.
According to Uhler, Hounsell served on the K-9 unit as the handler for a canine officer, Argo, for part of his tenure at the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. He also took initiative on many cases.
“He certainly made an impression as far as his thoroughness and attention to detail,” Uhler said. “He addressed his work, especially when he saw innocent victims being taken advantage of by scammers.”
One incident included visitors who were the victims of a vacation-home rental scam.
“The victims had been ripped off of $500 or more because they thought they had a place to stay while on vacation,” Uhler said. “He took interest in this particular case and did fantastic work when he tracked the scammers down through Internet sales and then backtracked [them] to the States.”
South Lake Tahoe City Council member Tom Davis also said he knew Mark Hounsell as “a great guy.”
“I had an opportunity to ride along with him about six months back,” Davis said Tuesday. “Every time he stopped to speak with a person or a suspect, I was amazed by his courtesy and professionalism.”
Uhler noted that the death of Fisher, the family friend, shouldn’t be forgotten as well.
“This is a tragedy for the Fisher family, and our hearts go out to them in light of this terrible tragedy,” Uhler said.
Memorial services are still being planned, and dates will be announced soon, according to South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
“We are doing our best to assemble photos and information that will help the family throughout the horrific time,” Uhler said.
About the vehicle incident
According to the Nevada Highway Patrol, the Hounsells were traveling westbound on U.S. Highway 50 east of Fallon when the Chevrolet SUV drifted off the road for unknown reasons.
The driver overcorrected the vehicle, causing it to rollover several times, according to Nevada Highway Patrol investigators.
Nevada Highway Patrol said investigators don’t suspect driver impairment as the cause of the single-vehicle rollover. The investigation is ongoing.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Karen Garretson is leading the investigation and is asking anyone with information to contact her at 775-689-4625 or email@example.com regarding case number NHP-151001600.
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