ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. – The driver of the SUV carrying late U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski attempted to pass a truck at a high speed when their vehicle hit another car head-on.
The Toyota RAV4 carrying Walorski, Zachery Potts with the St. Joseph County Republican Party and the congresswoman’s communications director Emma Thomson then slammed into a car driven by 56-year-old Edith Schmucker.
All four people died in the resulting crash.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office released its final report into the Aug. 3 incident, which happened around 12:30 p.m. on State Road 19 south of State Road 119.
The report concluded that the cause of the crash was driving left of center with a contributing factor of excessive speed. Potts was driving the RAV4, which was considered the at-fault vehicle.
According to the report, the RAV4 was heading northbound on State Road 19 behind a flatbed truck. Potts slowed down and then accelerated to a “high rate of speed,” closing the distance with the truck and then getting into the southbound lane in an attempt to pass it.
The RAV4 then collided with Schmucker’s Buick.
Evidence from the crash reconstruction, including black box data, showed the RAV4 was going about 82 mph five seconds before the crash. The vehicle reduced speed to 77 mph right before the airbags deployed.
Everyone involved in the crash had their seatbelt on, investigators said, and airbags did deploy.
There was no evidence that Potts was using his cellphone or had been distracted by it before the crash, the report said. The vehicle didn’t have any mechanical issues that would’ve caused the wreck.
“All of the evidence and information gathered is consistent with someone attempting to pass another vehicle on a two-lane roadway,” the report concluded.
The sheriff’s office asked Indiana State Police for an independent review of its findings and said ISP came to the same conclusion.