Indiana Rep. Walorski, 2 staffers killed in head-on crash

Aug 3, 2022, 1:29 AM | Updated: Aug 4, 2022, 11:48 am
FILE - In this July 19, 2018, photo, Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washin...

FILE - In this July 19, 2018, photo, Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Walorski's office says that she was killed Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in a car accident. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski was killed Wednesday in a car crash in her northern Indiana district along with two members of her congressional staff and another person, police said.

The crash happened about 12:30 p.m. when an SUV Walorski was riding in crossed the centerline on a state highway and collided head-on with a car, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said. Three people in the SUV, including Walorski, 58, were killed, as was a woman driving the other car, authorities said.

The sheriff’s department initially reported that the car crossed the centerline, but a news release Thursday corrected that to say it was the SUV.

Walorski, who served on the House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected to represent Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in 2012. She previously served six years in the state’s Legislature.

“She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers,” Walorski’s chief of staff Tim Cummings said in a statement.

Walorski and her husband, Dean Swihart, were previously Christian 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 turning to politics.

Also killed in the crash were Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, Indiana; Emma Thomson, 28, of Washington, D.C.; and Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, Indiana, according to the sheriff’s office.

Cummings confirmed that Potts and Thomson were members of Walorski’s congressional staff. Thomson was Walorski’s communications director, while Potts was her district director and the Republican chairman for northern Indiana’s St. Joseph County.

Schmucker was driving the other car, according to the sheriff’s office. The crash, which occurred in a rural area near the town of Wakarusa, is still under investigation.

Walorski was seeking reelection this year to a sixth term in the solidly Republican district.

She was active on agriculture and food policy in Congress, often working across the aisle on those issues. A co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, she introduced legislation with Democrats to bring back a Nixon-era White House event on food insecurity.

President Joe Biden pointed to that work in a statement crediting Walorski for years of public service.

“We may have represented different parties and disagreed on many issues, but she was respected by members of both parties for her work,” Biden said. “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.”

Indiana Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young said he was devastated by Walorski’s death.

“Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them,” Young said in a statement. “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.”

Walorski was a reliable Republican vote in Congress, including against accepting the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral votes for Biden following the Capitol insurrection.

As a member of the Indiana House, Walorski pushed anti-abortion legislation opposed gambling expansion proposals. She became a favorite of the conservative tea party movement.

Walorski lost a close 2010 congressional race to Democrat Joe Donnelly before narrowly winning the seat in 2012 as Donnelly made a successful run for the Senate. She had easily won her reelection campaigns since then.

House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Walorski a “no-nonsense, straight shooter.”

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Walorski “lived a life of service.”

“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,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Pelosi ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff in Walorski’s honor. The White House said its flags would be lowered Wednesday and Thursday, and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a similar flag directive for the state.

“At every level of public service Jackie was known to be a positive force of nature, a patriot, and a relentless policymaker with an unwavering loyalty to her constituents,” Holcomb, a Republican, said.

Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire said she and Walorski bonded as newly elected members of Congress in late 2012 over their husbands’ shared love of jazz music and became friends.

“I was proud to work with her on a variety of critical issues, including legislation to address the addiction crisis, end sexual violence, and help military sexual assault survivors access the care they need,” Kuster said.

___

Davies reported from Indianapolis. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed from Washington.

___

This story was first published on August 3, 2022. It was updated on August 4, 2022, to correct details about the crash that killed Warlorski. The sheriff’s department now says the the SUV that Walorski was riding in crossed the centerline of a highway and into oncoming traffic crashing into a car driven by Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, Indiana. The agency previously said it was Shcmucker’s car that crossed the centerline.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A sign asks those getting vaccinated to keep 6 feet apart during the vaccination event, Wedn...
Associated Press

CDC drops quarantine, distancing recommendations for COVID

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others. The […]
10 hours ago
Wake County Sheriff deputies work at the scene where a deputy was shot and killed in eastern Wake C...
Associated Press

North Carolina deputy killed; search on for shooter

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy was killed along a dark stretch of road in North Carolina and authorities were searching Friday for whoever fired the shots. “We will find who’s responsible for this loss. Even in the midst of the hurt and the pain, we ask for prayers, we ask for patience as […]
1 day ago
Supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold prayer near the parliament building in Baghdad...
Associated Press

Rival Iraq protests underscore inter-Shiite power struggle

BAGHDAD (AP) — Supporters of Iran-backed Shiite groups rallied in Baghdad on Friday to denounce their rivals, followers of an influential Shiite cleric who stormed the parliament last month and have since been holding a sit-in outside the assembly building in the Iraqi capital. The rivalry between the two sides shows the deep divisions within […]
1 day ago
FILE — Connecticut Attorney General William Tong speaks to the media during a watch party for the...
Associated Press

Feds agree to honor Connecticut pardons, stop deportations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Federal officials have agreed to recognize Connecticut pardons as legally valid again and stop deporting people who have been pardoned for their crimes by a state board, reversing a hard-line stance taken by the Trump administration, authorities announced Friday. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said the departments of Justice and Homeland […]
1 day ago
FILE - Students walk across 24th Street after the 24th Street dedication and ribbon cutting on the ...
Associated Press

Creighton students’ COVID vaccine mandate appeal dismissed

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by a handful of Creighton University students who sought to be exempt from the private Catholic school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate last year, arguing that getting the shots would violate their religious beliefs against abortion. The state’s high court said it didn’t have […]
1 day ago
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, poses during a ceremonial swearing-in for Rep. Brad Fin...
Associated Press

Minnesota’s Finstad sworn in as newest member of Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Minnesota Republican Brad Finstad was sworn in Friday as the newest member of the U.S. House, giving the GOP one more seat, which means Democrats can’t afford to lose more than four votes on close issues like their flagship climate change and health care bill. Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a ceremonial […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
Indiana Rep. Walorski, 2 staffers killed in head-on crash