Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., was killed in a car accident in her home state of Indiana on Wednesday.
According to an Indiana sheriff’s office investigating the collision, the vehicle Walorski was riding in caused the crash that killed her, two staff members, and the driver of another vehicle.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office initially reported that it was the other vehicle that crossed the centerline, colliding head-on with Walorski’s vehicle on a state route in northern Indiana.
However, on Thursday, the sheriff’s office issued a new statement correcting its preliminary findings based on eyewitness and video evidence.
According to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office, Emma Thomson, a member of Walorski’s staff, and Zach Potts, chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party, were also killed in the crash.
According to the sheriff’s office, Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, Indiana, was also killed in the crash.
According to the sheriff’s office, Potts was driving the vehicle that crossed the centerline and caused the collision. The four passengers were all wearing seatbelts, and the vehicle airbags deployed during the collision.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were “shocked and saddened” by the news of Walorski’s death, according to a White House statement.
Walorski, 58, was born in South Bend, Indiana, and was elected to Congress for the first time in 2012. Walorski previously served three terms in the Indiana Statehouse, worked as a missionary in Romania, and worked as a television news reporter and higher education development director before being elected to Congress.
The news of Walorski’s death sparked an outpouring of grief from colleagues in Congress and others in Washington on both sides of the aisle. To honor Walorski, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered that the flags at the United States Capitol be flown at half-staff.
“Congresswoman Walorski, a lifelong Hoosier, 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 said in a statement. “She was admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness as she passionately brought the voices of her north Indiana constituents to Congress.”
In addition, the White House has announced that flags will be flown at half-staff on Wednesday and Thursday in honor of the congresswoman.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is from Indiana, expressed “heartbreak” over the loss of a “truly inspiring Indiana leader.”
“She served Indiana in the Statehouse and Congress with integrity and principle for nearly two decades and will be sorely missed,” Pence said in a tweet.
In a prepared statement, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said he was “devastated” to learn of Walorski’s death.
“She was a champion for the people of Indiana,” he said, “and she will be remembered for her kindness, tenacity, and dedication to helping others.” “Jackie and her staffers were killed while serving her constituents.” They will be missed, and our country will be grateful for their service. My thoughts and prayers are with Jackie’s devoted husband Dean, her entire family, and the families of both of her employees.”
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., who co-chaired the Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus with Walorski and served on the Ways and Means Committee with her, sponsored bills on breast cancer equity and nutrition care for those with eating disorders.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., lamented the loss of “one of our best.”
“Rep. Jackie Walorski was a true leader and legislator, as well as the most thoughtful person you could hope to meet. She was dedicated and determined, as well as the kindest of coworkers — with a heart to match “He stated this in a prepared statement.
Even though they disagreed, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat from Indiana, praised Walorski for her approach.
“Though we came from very different political places, she was always willing to work together where there was common ground, she was always decent and straightforward, and she cared deeply about her work and her constituents,” he said in a tweet on Wednesday.