Longtime GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana was killed in a Wednesday afternoon car accident in her home state, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) confirmed.
“She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Walorski’s office said in a statement shared by McCarthy on Twitter.
“Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have no further comment at this time,” her office said.
The two others in the vehicle with Walorski, her communications director Emma Thomson, 28, and district director Zachary Potts, 27, were also killed, along with the driver of the other vehicle, Edith Schmucker, 56, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said. Potts lived in Mishawaka, Indiana, while Thomson resided in Washington, D.C.
Walorski, 58, served in the Indiana state House for five years and was first elected to Congress in 2012, representing an area in northern Indiana that includes South Bend and Elkhart.
While the Elkhart County Sheriff’s office initially said Schmucker’s car had veered over the dividing line, the office issued another statement on Thursday with different information. It was the Toyota RAV 4 in which Walorski was traveling as a passenger that crossed into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with a maroon Buick LeSabre, police said.
Potts was behind the wheel of the SUV. All occupants of both vehicles were wearing their seatbelts.
Todd Rokita, the state’s Republican attorney general, recalled the time he spent with Walorski on the campaign trail, writing in a tweet: “In addition to everything else, she had a great sense of humor.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, former Democratic mayor of South Bend, said he was “shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski.”
“Though we came from very different places politically, she was always prepared to work together where there was common ground, always decent and straightforward, and she cared deeply about her work and her constituents,” Buttigieg said.
Walorski was born in South Bend, where she also attended high school before going on to Taylor University, a Christian liberal arts college in Upland, Indiana.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags to be lowered to mark Walorski’s death. Pelosi noted in a statement that the congresswoman was “admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness.”
In 2021, Walorski was one of 139 Republicans in the House who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud, saying in a statement that she had “concerns” about “irregularities” in “some states.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional information from law enforcement on the origins of the fatal crash. The vehicle containing the congresswoman veered over the line to hit another car, not the other way around.