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Victim in truck pulled from Fort Wayne river remembered as valuable Shawnee employee

Friday, November 8, 2013 - 9:03 am

Matt Schenkel, the president of Shawnee Construction, said Thursday was a tough day for the company.

The bodies of a long-time employee and his ex-wife were pulled from the Maumee River after a company pickup they were in crashed through a bridge railing and went into the water.

Mark W. Staulters, 53, and Tamee Ann Staulters, 44, died of asphyxia due to drowning, according to a news release issued by the Allen County coroner's office. The manner of deaths for the Staulters is pending, as it remains under investigation.

According to Officer Michael Joyner of the Fort Wayne Police Department, police dispatchers were notified by drivers crossing the Tecumseh Street bridge that fresh damage was noticeable. A section of the bridge's railing was missing.

Firefighters and police officers were dispatched to the scene at 7:24 a.m. and saw bubbles and an oil sheen on the water's surface. Firefighters then went into the water for a search and rescue operation and recovered the Staulters by extricating them from the pickup. At one point Thursday morning, the truck was upside down on the bridge after being removed from the water.

The white, two-door pickup with a Shawnee Construction and Engineering logo on the side, was also retrieved from the water; Staulters was confirmed as an employee with the company on Friday morning.

“Mark was a very good friend, a long-term employee who we valued a great deal,” Schenkel said. “We miss him tremendously, and our thoughts and sympathies go out to his friends and all who know him.”

Schenkel said that he had known Mark Staulters, an employee with the company for 21 years, for as long as he had been with the company, and that Staulters was one of Shawnee Construction's lead foremen.

“He could do anything that was asked,” Schenkel said.

Mark W. Staulters had been expected at a work site Thursday morning, according to an employee of the office at the site. The Staulters had divorced in October 2011, according to court records.

Joyner said he did not know how long the Staulters were in the water. The bridge has seen multiple accidents over the past few months, Joyner said. The Department of Natural Resources will work with the FWPD to see what the reasons might be.