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GOP Congresswoman killed in car crash

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski speaks to Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander and Lt. Col. Todd Moody, 434th Operations Group commander, at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind. Aug. 24, 2017. (Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Mota/U.S. Air Force)
August 03, 2022

U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, who represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional district since 2013, was killed in a car accident on Wednesday afternoon in Elkhart County, Ind. Walorski was a member of House committees on Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, and Budget.

A tweet posted to Walorski’s Twitter account confirmed her death.

“Dean Swihart, 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,” the tweet said.

The crash took place around State Roads 19 and 119 in Nappanee after 12:30 p.m. when a northbound car traveled over the center line and struck Walorski’s southbound car head-on.

Walorski, 58, was killed along with her two passengers – her communications director, Emma Thomson, 28, and local St. Joseph County Republican Party member, Zachery Potts, 27.

The sole driver of the northbound car, 56-year-old Edith Schmucker, was also killed.

Congress had ended its session on Friday, beginning a month-long recess to allow members to return to their home states.

Among Walorski’s last actions in Congress were her votes against House Democrats’ sweeping “assault weapons” banning bill, and for the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) funding bill.

After the NDAA’s passage, Walorski said on July 14, “Our servicemembers and their families deserve the best of the best. As they serve and sacrifice to protect our values and defend our homeland, Congress must fulfill our promises to them. Our servicemembers must be prepared to fight and win. These vital investments will prepare our Armed Forces to protect Americans at home and abroad, deter emboldened adversaries across the world, counter the Chinese Communist Party’s growing aggression, and ensure that the United States continues to lead the Free World.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence released a statement recognizing Walorski’s death. “[Karen] 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,” he said.

Fellow Indiana Congressman Jim Banks also released a statement. “Jackie was a true public servant – selfless, humble, and compassionate,” his statement said. “Everything Jackie did was to serve others. Before Congress, she served in the Indiana Statehouse and she and her husband served as missionaries in Romania where they provided impoverished children food and medical care.”