Rep. Jackie Walorski Killed in Indiana Car Crash
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., was one of four people killed on Wednesday in a motor vehicle crash near Nappanee, Indiana.
According to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office, the head-on crash occurred at about 12:32 p.m. near the intersection of Indiana State Routes 19 and 119.
Walorski, 58, was one of three occupants of a southbound vehicle, all of whom were killed in the crash.
The other victims in that vehicle have been identified as Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, Indiana, Walorski’s district director, and Emma Thomson, 28, of Washington, D.C., the representative’s communications director.
The sole occupant of the northbound vehicle, Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Walorski, who served on the House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected to represent Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in 2012. She previously served six years in the state’s Legislature.
She and her husband, Dean Swihart, were previously Christian missionaries in Romania, where they established a foundation that provided food and medical supplies to impoverished children. She worked as a television news reporter in South Bend before turning to politics.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced Walorski’s death at about 4 p.m. via Twitter.
In doing so, he shared a note from the representative’s office that said, “She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., said he and his wife Shannon were “heartbroken by the passing of my good friend and classmate, Jackie Walorski, and two members of her staff.”
“Jackie was a great advocate for her constituents, a strong leader of the Ethics Committee, and deeply loved and respected by her colleagues,” Davis said.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., released a statement in which he said he was “devastated and saddened” when he learned of the accident.
“Jackie was an instrumental member of our conference, serving as a member of my deputy whip team for several years. She was a champion for the people of Indiana, and she will be remembered for her kindness, tenacity, and commitment to helping others,” he continued.
“Jackie and her staffers died serving her constituents. They will be missed, and our nation will miss their service. My prayers are with Jackie’s loving husband Dean, her entire family, and the families of both of her staffers,” Scalise said.
In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the entire “House of Representatives sadly mourns the sudden and tragic passing of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski.
“A lifelong Hoosier, Congresswoman Walorski lived a life of service: whether caring for impoverished children in Romania, representing her community in the Indiana Statehouse or serving nearly a decade in the House,” Pelosi continued. “She passionately brought the voices of her north Indiana constituents to the Congress, and she was admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness.
“Our Congressional community also mourns the loss of two devoted members of her staff, Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson,” the speaker said. “May it be a comfort to Jackie’s husband and partner in service, Dean, the entire Walorski family, the families of all the victims and the office of Indiana’s Second Congressional District that so many joining them in mourning and are praying for them at this sad time.”
Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted that Wednesday’s tragedy occurred whem Walorski was “back home among her fellow Hoosiers in Indiana’s second district, in circumstances that are familiar to each of us: long days on the road with trusted aides, meeting with the people we represent.
“By all accounts, Congresswoman Walorski had two stellar young people by her side,” he said. “At 27, Zach was already a seven-year veteran of her team, having served as both campaign manager and district director.
“Emma, her 28-year-old communications director, was already a Capitol Hill veteran whose ‘intelligence’ and ‘drive’ one former boss described as ‘second-to-none’.
“The past day’s outpourings of grief and admiration demonstrate just how great a hole Jackie Walorski leaves behind among her friends here in the Capitol.
“They marveled at both her tremendous personal kindness and her fierce advocacy for the families she represented,” he continued.
“Today, we trust that this faith has reunited our colleague with her eternal Father. And we pray that He will comfort Dean, all her family and friends, and those who mourn Zach and Emma, in these terrible days,” McConnell said.