U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who has represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013, was killed in a crash Wednesday afternoon in northern Indiana, according to various media outlets.
Walorski, 58, a Republican, was among four people who died in the crash involving two vehicles at the intersection of State Road 19 and SR 119 near Nappanee in Elkhart County.
The Goshen News reported that Walorski was traveling southbound in a vehicle with Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, and Emma Thomson, 28 of Washington, D.C. Potts was district director and Thomson was Walorski’s communications director.
The only person in the other vehicle, which was heading northbound, was Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee.
“Jackie’s husband, was just informed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s office that Jackie was killed in a car accident this afternoon. 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,” Walorski’s office said in a statement.
Walorksi, who served on the House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected to represent Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in 2012. She previously served three terms in the state’s legislature.
Walorski was born in South Bend and lived near Elkhart, Indiana. She and her husband were previously 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 her turn to politics.
Governor Eric Holcomb directed flags to be flown at half-staff in Walorski’s honor until the date of her burial.
“Janet and I are devastated by the tragic loss of our friend Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and her two staffers – Emma Thomson and Zach Potts – earlier today. Our broken hearts go out to her husband Dean and the entire family during this time of unimaginable mourning. At every level of public service Jackie was known to be a positive force of nature, a patriot, and a relentless policy maker with an unwavering loyalty to her constituents. Jackie’s record of achievement is impossible to quantify. She will be remembered as a fighter with a huge heart that always went the extra mile and I’ll treasure the times we walked a few of those together. Every waking moment for her was energetically devoted to improving the lives of all Hoosiers better, the epitome of a good and faithful servant. She, and the example she set, will be missed every day forward.”
Additional tributes poured in Wednesday afternoon from Indiana’s political and business leaders.
Senator Todd Young (R-IN)
“I’m truly devastated. Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them. I’ll never forget her spirit, her positive attitude, and most importantly her friendship. All of Indiana mourns her passing, along with the tragic deaths of her staff Emma Thomson and Zach Potts. Please join me in praying for their families in this difficult time.”
Senator Mike Braun (R-IN)
“Jackie Walorski was a tireless advocate for the Hoosiers she represented and a kind friend to everyone she met. She faithfully served her constituents and her Lord and Savior, and I trust she is now wrapped in the arms of Christ. This is a devastating loss, and we grieve for her two staff members – Zach and Emma – who had their whole lives ahead of them. Please join me and Maureen in praying for the families and friends of those lost on this tragic day for Indiana.”
Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch
“I was shocked and heartbroken when I received the news today about the tragic death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Jackie and I served together in the Indiana House of Representatives, and she was a fighter for her constituents and conservative Hoosier values. My heart goes out to her husband, Dean, and the rest of her family and friends. She will be deeply missed.”
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita
“Jackie Walorski was a woman who stood strong in her values, cared for her family, and served Hoosiers well. I have many great memories and stories of our time together in Congress and on the campaign trail. In addition to everything else, she had a great sense of humor. She will be missed. Our sympathies also go out to the families of Zach Potts and Emma Thomson who died in the same tragic accident. Hoosiers across the state mourn the loss of these public servants.”
Purdue University President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
“There could not be worse news. I’m heartsick at this tragedy. Jackie Walorski was a great public servant, a brave and constant ally for change during all my years in elected office, and a great representative of her district at both the state and national levels. I can’t say how much I’ll miss her.”
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar
“Congresswoman Walorski was such a pleasure to work with – both in her tenure at the Indiana Statehouse and in Congress. She always fought hard for her constituents and was a trusted ally in advocating for policies to better the lives of Hoosiers. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce sends its sincere condolences to the Congresswoman’s family and the families of all lost today.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.