Rep. Jackie Walorski dies in Indiana car crash

Midwest

(NewsNation) — Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) was killed in a car crash along with three others near Nappanee, Ind. Wednesday, according to the local sheriff’s office.

The crash happened at 12:32 p.m. Wednesday at an intersection of SR 19 and SR 119 in Indiana, when a northbound vehicle crossed the center line, striking the SUV carrying Walorski, according to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office.

Two staffers traveling with Walorski, 58, were killed. The lone passenger of the other vehicle was also killed.

The other victims have been identified as Emma Thompson, 28; Zachery Potts, 27; and Edith Schmucker, 56. Schmucker was driving the vehicle that struck the SUV.

Walorski has been a member of Congress since 2012. She was the highest ranking Republican on the House Ethics Committee.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal.) released a statement on Twitter saying in part: “She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have no further comment at this time.”

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 13: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) (2nd L) speaks as Vice President Mike Pence (L) listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional members in the Cabinet Room of the White House February 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a meeting with congressional members to discuss trade. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg released the following statement: “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. 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.”

Former Vice President and Governor of Indiana Mike Pence tweeted ” Karen Pence 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.”

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.”

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)

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.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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