Republican US Rep. Jackie Walorski was killed Wednesday in a car crash in her northern Indiana district along with two members of her legislative staff and one other person, police said.
The crash occurred around 12:30 p.m., when a vehicle crossed the center line of the state highway and collided head-on with the pickup Walorski was traveling in, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department said. Three people who were in the truck, including the 58-year-old lawmaker, were killed, as was the woman who was driving the other vehicle, authorities said.
Walorski, who was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected to represent Indiana’s 2nd legislative district in 2012. She previously served six years in the state’s Congress.
“She has come home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her family in her thoughts and prayers,” Walorski’s chief of staff Tim Cummings said in a statement.
Walorski and her husband were Christian missionaries in Romania, where they established a foundation that provided food and medical supplies for poor children. She worked as a television reporter in South Bend before turning to politics.
Also killed in the crash were Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, Indiana; Emma Thomson, 28, of Washington, DC; and Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, Indiana, according to county police.
Cummings confirmed that Potts and Thomson were members of Walorski’s legislative staff. Thomson was his director of communications, and Potts was his district director and Republican chairman of St. Joseph County in northern Indiana.
Schmucker was driving the other vehicle, according to police. The accident, which occurred in a rural area near the town of Wakarusa, remains under investigation.
Republican Todd Young, a US senator from Indiana, said he was “devastated” by Walorski’s death.
“Jackie loved the Hoosiers and dedicated her life to fighting for them,” Young said in a statement, referring to the Indiana natives by their common name. “I will never forget her enthusiasm, her positive attitude and above all her friendship. All of Indiana is mourning her passing, as well as the tragic deaths of her collaborators Emma Thomson and Zach Potts. Please join me in praying for their families at this difficult time.”
Walorski was running for reelection this year for a sixth term in the Republican-majority district.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Walorski “lived a life of service.”
“She passionately brought the voices of her northern Indiana constituents to Congress, and her colleagues on both sides of the aisle admired her for her personal kindness,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Pelosi ordered that the US Capitol flags be flown at half-staff in Walorski’s honor. The White House said its flags would be lowered on Wednesday and Thursday, and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued a similar flag directive for the state.