Johnny Muller was killed in accident last Sunday when his car flipped over while exiting the Garden State Parkway and was engulfed in flames so severe that those at the scene could not even make out the model of the car he was driving.
Muller graduated from Montclair State in May 2014. In his senior year, he entered and won the 2014 Meranze-Tomlinson film award, which came with a $100 prize. He was in his first year as a graduate student pursuing his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Rutgers University when his life was tragically cut short.
Along with being a graduate student, he was also an undergraduate English teacher. He taught composition courses at Rutgers’ Newark campus along with other workshops and was already established as a talented young writer, reader and thinker.
According to the Rutgers-Newark MFA media statements, “This week, the Rutgers-Newark MFA community suffered a terrible loss. One of our first year fiction students … died in a car accident this Sunday. Johnny was a bright, kind and talented person who will be missed deeply. He was a new member of the MFA program, but he was, and always will be, a valued part of this community.”
Students and staff in the program alike are mourning his loss. According to student Matt Pirog’s Instagram account @peteheavycream, “This news crushed me. I’m having a hard time figuring this one out. You know how uncomfortable people make me. Not Johnny. Within moments of meeting him, I felt at ease.”
This is the reputation that Muller developed with people who knew him. At Montclair State, he took intermediate and advanced fiction workshops with English professor David Galef. According to Galef, “He didn’t cut students down. He was reserved, but he knew his stuff and he never wanted to offend people. There are talented authors who would play on their talents for a while, but not Johnny. Johnny wanted to work.”
Because of the various fiction writing workshops Muller took to specialize in fiction writing, he was able to work with Galef, who thought very highly of him. “[Muller was] both talented and industrious,” Galef said. “He would write, listen to criticism and act on it. He would read authors recommended to him. He was young and full of promise.”