Published Aug. 31, 2007

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Berne couple killed in Reiffsburg crash


A Thursday afternoon crash in Reiffsburg claimed the lives of Berne residents Art and Gloria Muselman.

At around 5:20 p.m. the Bluffton Dispatch Center received numerous calls reporting a serious accident on S.R. 1 and S.R. 218 involving a minivan and a First Fleet semi-truck and trailer.

Callers reported possible fatalities and an ejection. The Wells County Sheriff's Department responded along with E.M.S., Bluffton Fire Rescue, and the Poneto Fire Department.

Medics requested that Lutheran Air be activated at 5:25, but cancelled their request ten minutes later. Wells County Coroner Doug Cale was dispatched to the scene at 5:29 p.m.

Eugene M. Hackler, 51, of Union City, Ind., was driving southbound on State Road 1 in a First Fleet semi-truck. As he approached the flashing traffic signal at the intersection of S.R. 218, a white minivan heading eastbound on S.R. 218 pulled into his path.

Hackler attempted to brake and steered to avoid the collision but he was unable to avoid striking the minivan which was driven by Gloria E. Muselman, 76, of Berne.

The semi truck ended up in a ditch on the southeast corner of the intersection, and the Muselman's minivan ended up off the roadway on the southwest corner of the intersection.

A media release issued by the Wells County Sheriff's Department stated that Gloria and Arthur K. Muselman, 77, were killed by the impact.

Hackler, who suffered only minor injuries, was transported to Bluffton Regional Medical Center for a blood draw, as is the normal procedure for an accident involving a CDL licensed driver. Results of the toxicology tests are pending but driver impairment is not suspected at this time.

The crash is under investigation by Deputy Ryan Mounsey. Chief Deputy Scott Holliday said an accident reconstruction team from Adams County assisted with the investigation, as did the Indiana State Police.

Holliday said that it took more than five hours to remove Hackler's truck from the crash scene as it was "buried" in the ditch. Two commercial wreckers from Decatur were called in to remove the truck.

The crash toppled a utility pole and downed power lines, and a SBC phone utility box was destroyed by the impact.

An official accident report is pending at the Wells County Sheriff's Department but was not finalized as of press time.

Art Muselman was a prominent Berne businessman and the couple was involved in many community organizations and charitable causes.

It was that strong sense of community that brought the couple to Wells County on Thursday and set up the chain of events that put them at the accident scene.

Mr. Muselman was in Bluffton on Thursday afternoon to participate in the annual Autumn Classic golf outing in support of the Caylor Nickel Foundation.

He had come over from Berne with his son Roger. Roger's son, Mark, had a football game at Eastbrook High School Thursday evening, hence, the pair left Bluffton immediately after the golf portion of the outing and met Roger's wife, Naomi and Gloria Muselman at Reiffsburg.

Roger and Naomi drove west from there to Eastbrook while Gloria and Art were returning to Berne. The younger couple had left first and were far enough away from the intersection that they were not aware of the tragedy until they arrived at Eastbrook and authorities were able to track them down.

Muselman's business career in Berne began during his college years, working at Economy Printing Concern, the family printing company. It was founded in 1925 by his father, (Chris) Herr Muselman, who immigrated from Germany as an indentured servant in 1910.

Art Muselman joined the business full time in 1952. He focused primarily on sales and money management for the business. EP Graphics, as it is known today, is still owned by the family.

Art and his brother Carl, as the second generation, worked as a team to grow their father's business and bought him out in the late 1950s. During their professional careers, they saw the family business grow a thousandfold.

Today, the business operates under a parent company known as Dynamic Resources Group (DRG), with the two main divisions being EP Graphics and the Strategic Fulfillment Group. The company publishes over 14 titles of magazines and specializes in craft books as well as hard-cover books that are distributed around the world and employs over 400 people.

As the printing business continued to grow, the Muselmans expanded into other areas, such as the sale of wholesale records and the operation of a travel business. They also purchased Smith Brothers Furniture, a highly successful manufacturer of upholstered furniture.

In 1976, the Muselman brothers purchased the local newspaper, the Berne Witness, which is now called the Berne Tri-Weekly News. In July 1998, Art and Carl were honored as finalists for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Art and Gloria Muselman were charter members of Peace Lutheran Church, where they each held a number of offices and positions of leadership. He was also a member of the Berne Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce, and served on the boards of Taylor University, Swiss Village Retirement Home, First State Bank of Decatur, Concordia Theological Seminary, Christian radio station WBCL and the Wabash Valley Golf Club.

Gloria Muselman was also active in the Berne community. She was a founding director of the Swiss Heritage Society and an active member of the Berne Mother's Club and South Adams Music Boosters. In the late 1950s, Gloria was a district president of Indiana Rural Youth and vice president of the American Farm Bureau Young People.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Yager-Kirchhofer Funeral Home in Berne.