Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, 58, and her two young aides are killed in head-on Indiana car crash

Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, from Indiana, died in a car crash Wednesday. 

The Elkhart County Sheriff’s office confirmed she was one of four victims in a car crash this afternoon. Her communications director Emma Thomson and the St. Joseph County Republican Chair Zachery Potts were also killed. 

Thomson, 28, was a Washington, D.C. resident and Potts, 27, lived in Mishawaka, Indiana. 

Walorski, 58, and her two aides were driving southbound in Elkhart County, Indiana when a northbound vehicle crossed over the line and collided with their vehicle head-on. The driver of the northbound car, Edith Schmucker, 56, was also killed.

Thomson, 28, Walorski’s communications director, was also killed in the crash 
Zachary Potts, 27, chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party, was killed in the crash

Walorski is the fifth House member to die while in office this year and the third Republican – after Reps. Don Young, Alaska, and Jim Hagedorn, Minn.  

Walorski’s office put out a statement after the crash: ‘Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just informed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s office that Jackie was killed in a car crash this afternoon. She has returned 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 had represented Indiana’s 2nd district since 2013 and was the highest ranking Republican on the House Ethics Committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half staff to commemorate Walorski and the White House followed suit. 

Walorski started off her career as a TV news reporter and she and her husband spent four years as missionaries in Romania, where they started a foundation to offer food and medical supplies to impoverished youth.  She also spent five years in the Indiana state house. 

Thomson, a native of Johnstown, Pa., had previously worked as a communications director for Reps. John Joyce, R-Pa., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and as a campaign manager for Joyce. She also worked on Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign. 

Potts, in addition to chairing the St. Joseph GOP, worked a district director for Walorski. He graduated from Indiana University in 2017.   

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement after the crash: ‘This news is absolutely devastating. Jackie was a dear friend, trusted advisor, and the embodiment of integrity.’

‘When there was a vacancy for Republican leader of the Ethics Committee, she was my first call. Everyone who knew Jackie knows she was tough, but fair – a no nonsense, straight shooter.’  

‘@KarenPence and I are heartbroken by the tragic passing of our dear friend Rep. Jackie Walorski. She served Indiana in the Statehouse and the Congress with integrity and principle for nearly two decades and will be deeply missed,’ former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted. 

‘Today Emma Thomson who did an amazing job on my 2016 Presidential campaign lost her life in an auto accident in Indiana She was a smart & talented communicator and an amazing young woman Jeanette & I send our deepest condolences to her family May she rest in eternal peace,’ Rubio tweeted after the crash. 

‘For two years I had the privilege and honor to work with Emma Thomson. Emma’s intelligence, creativity, drive, determination and humor were second-to-none,’ Joyce said in a statement of condolence. 

Walorski, 58, and her two aides were driving southbound in Elkhart County, Indiana when a northbound vehicle crossed over the line and collided with their vehicle head-on

President Biden offered condolences: ‘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.’ 

He added: ‘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. 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.’ 

‘My heart is heavy, and i don’t have the words. But all I can say is prayers for her family. She was a good and honorable public servant,’ Rep. Adam Kinzinger wrote on Twitter. 

‘I’m shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and the other victims of this terrible crash,’ Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg tweeted after the crash.

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