U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana was killed in a car crash in Elkhart County Wednesday. Three other people were killed in the crash on Indiana 19, south of Wakarusa, around 12:30 p.m., police told the South Bend Tribune. Walorski was 58 and had represented Indiana's second Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013.
Walorski was in a car with Zach Potts, 27, and Emma Thompson, 28, who were also killed. The accident happened south of Wakarusa, where a car going north drove over the center line. The car collided with Walorski's vehicle head-on. The crash is still under investigation. The driver of the northbound car, Edith Schmucker, 56, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Thompson was Walorski's communications director and Potts was the St. Joseph County Republican Party chairman. They were returning from a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Claypool. Walorski was elected to the U.S. House in 2012 after serving in the Indiana House of Representatives. She was also a ranking member of the U.S. House Ethics Committee.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb directed flags to be flown at half-staff throughout the state in Walorski's honor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff. "Serving in Congress since 2013, Jackie was a force to be reckoned with and represented our community with passion and conviction. Today our community lost a dedicated public servant," South Bend Mayor James Mueller said in a statement.
President Joe Biden also offered his condolences to Walorski's family and the families of Potts and Thompson. "Jill and I are shocked and saddened by the death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana along with two members of her staff in a car accident today in Indiana," the president said. "Born in her beloved South Bend as the daughter of a meat-cutter and firefighter, she spent a lifetime serving the community that she grew up in – as a journalist, a nonprofit director, a state legislator, and eventually as a Member of Congress for the past nine and half years."
"We may have represented different parties and disagreed on many issues, but she was respected by members of both parties for her work on the House Ways and Means Committee on which she served," Biden continued. "She also served as co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, and my team and I appreciated her partnership as we plan for a historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this fall that will be marked by her deep care for the needs of rural America."
Walorski was born in South Bend, Indiana on Aug. 17, 1963. Her mother was a meat cutter at a grocery store and her father was a firefighter and appliance store owner. After graduating from Taylor University, she worked as a journalist for WSBT-TV, South Bend's CBS affiliate. She was also the executive director for the St. Joseph County Humane Society and worked at Ancilla College, the St. Joseph Country Chamber of Commerce, and Indiana University South Bend. She did Christian missionary work in Romania for four years before returning to the U.S. and starting her political career in 2004. She is survived by her husband, Dean Swihart.