Rep. Jackie Walorski and three others were killed in a horrific car crash on Wednesday in her home state of Indiana, according to police. A 56-year-old care aide has been identified as the driver who veered into oncoming traffic in the crash that killed Walorski, who was a fierce supporter of all the conservative causes and agenda pushed by Republicans.
According to the Elkhart County Sheriff's Office, Walorski, 58, was riding in an SUV with her press secretary, Emma Thomson, 28, and the chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party, Zachery Potts, 27, when a vehicle traveling the other way crossed the median on Indiana State Road 19 and struck them head-on.
The driver of the car that crashed with the SUV in which Walorski and the two others were traveling has been identified as Edith Schmucker from Nappanee, Indiana. Thompson and Potts along with Schmucker also died as a result of the accident.
On Wednesday at around 12:30 p.m., Schmucker was travelling north when she drifted across the center line and hit Walorski's car on a highway in Elkhart County, Indiana. Walorski, an Indiana Republican, was one of four victims in an automobile accident this afternoon, according to the Elkhart County Sheriff's office.
Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy shared the information on his social media sites as soon as he learned about the horrific accident. In a statement shared by McCarthy, Walorski's office said the lawmaker "has returned home to be with her Lord and savior, Jesus Christ."
"Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers," the statement added.
President Biden and other top lawmakers paid tribute to the "daughter of a meat-cutter and a firefighter's" lifelong career serving her community, while two of Schmucker's nieces paid tribute to their aunt on Facebook.
Walorski " lived a life of service: whether caring for impoverished children in Romania, representing her community in the Indiana Statehouse or serving nearly a decade in the House," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is presently traveling in Asia, said in a statement.
"She passionately brought the voices of her north Indiana constituents to the Congress, and she was admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness."
Big Loss for Republicans
Walorski, who was a native of Indiana, had been active in politics for many years and represented Indiana's 2nd Congressional District. Since leaving her job in television in 1991, she has been involved in politics in her state.
"I am devastated to learn of the passing of my good friend, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski," Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
"She was an incredible public servant for Hoosiers and leader within the Republican Party. The entire Republican National Committee is praying for her family, as well as the families of the two staff who were also tragically killed."
Walorski, the highest-ranking Republican on the House Ethics Committee, had been the representative of Indiana's 2nd congressional district since 2013.
Walorski began her career as a TV news reporter. She and her husband served as missionaries in Romania for four years, where they established a foundation to provide food and medical supplies to underprivileged youngsters. She also served in the Indiana state legislature for five years.
Thomson, a Johnstown, Pennsylvania native, formerly served as campaign manager for Rep. John Joyce and as communications director for Reps. Michael Burgess and John Joyce, both Republicans from Pennsylvania. She contributed to the 2016 campaign of Marco Rubio.
Along with leading the St. Joseph GOP, Potts served as Walorski's district director. In 2017, he received his degree from Indiana University.
Walorski was outlived by her husband, Dean Swihart. The White House also lowered the flags to half-mast on Wednesday in Walorski's honor.
After Reps. Don Young of Alaska and Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota, Walorski is the third Republican to die while serving in the House this year.