() — Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski has died in a car crash that also killed two members of her team, Republican leaders in the US House of Representatives announced Wednesday.
The news had a huge impact on Capitol Hill and immediately sparked a wave of grief and memories from lawmakers and aides who paid tribute to the lives and careers of the congresswoman and the two members of her team.
Walorski, 58, represented Indiana’s 2nd congressional district and previously served as a member of the state House of Representatives. He began serving in Congress in 2013.
The congresswoman was seen within the House Republican conference as someone who might one day rise through the ranks of Republican leadership, and her name had been thrown around for the conference chairmanship in the past.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Walorski’s death.
“Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, has just been informed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office that Jackie was killed in a car accident this afternoon. He has returned home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Have your family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have no further comment at this time,” read a message from the congresswoman’s office that McCarthy tweeted.
A statement issued by the congresswoman’s office said two employees had also died. “In addition to the devastating loss of Congresswoman Walorski, it is with a broken heart that I announce the passing of two dedicated members of your staff, Zach Potts and Emma Thomson. They were the epitome of public servants who cared deeply about the work they did,” Tim Cummings, the congresswoman’s secretary general, said in a statement.
In a lengthy statement released later Wednesday, McCarthy called the congresswoman’s passing “absolutely devastating.”
“Jackie was a dear friend, a trusted advisor and the embodiment of integrity who commanded the admiration and respect of all her colleagues in the House,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags on Capitol Hill to fly at half-staff over the congresswoman’s death, Pelosi’s Deputy Secretary General Drew Hammill announced Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Pelosi said the congresswoman “lived a life of service” and “was admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness.”
House Minority Partisan Discipline Steve Scalise said in a statement that Walorski “was a champion for the people of Indiana, and will be remembered for her kindness, tenacity and commitment to helping others.” .
The congresswoman served as the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, a position that puts her in line to become chair of the panel if the GOP regains its House majority in the upcoming midterm elections. She also served as the ranking Republican member of a subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means committee.
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted in reaction to the news, “There was no more dedicated or effective member of Congress than Jackie,” adding, “I was proud to be her friend.”
Walorski died in a car accident, according to a statement from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office.
“A northbound passenger car moved to the left and collided head-on with the southbound SUV,” the statement said.
All three occupants of the southbound vehicle died as a result of their injuries, according to the release.
‘s Amy Simonson contributed to this report.