ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. — Four people, including U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski have died after a crash in Elkhart County.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday on State Road 19 south of State Road 119. Police originally said a northbound car traveled left of center, colliding head-on with a southbound vehicle that carried Walorski and others.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department has since retracted this statement saying “the preliminary information may have been incorrect.” The cause of the accident is still actively being investigated and reconstruction crews will reexamine evidence in the morning, according to the sheriff’s department.
On Thursday, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office provided an update, saying witnesses and video evidence confirm that the vehicle Congresswoman Walorski was in was the vehicle that crossed the centerline, leading to the deadly crash.
Congresswoman Walorski, Zachary Potts with the St. Joseph County Republican Party and Walorski’s communications director Emma Thomson all died in the crash. As did the driver in the other vehicle, 56-year-old Edith Schmucker of Nappanee.
The sheriff’s office says everyone was wearing seatbelts and airbags deployed during the crash. They continue to interview witnesses and collect evidence from the scene and vehicles.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff due to Congresswoman Walorski’s death. Governor Eric Holcomb directed flags in the State of Indiana to be flown at half-staff until Walorski’s burial.
President Joe Biden released the following statement:
Jill and I are shocked and saddened by the death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana along with two members of her staff in a car accident today in Indiana.
Born in her beloved South Bend as the daughter of a meat-cutter and firefighter, she spent a lifetime serving the community that she grew up in – as a journalist, a nonprofit director, a state legislator, and eventually as a Member of Congress for the past nine and half years.
We may have represented different parties and disagreed on many issues, but she was respected by members of both parties for her work on the House Ways and Means Committee on which she served. She also served as co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, and 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.
We send our deepest condolences to her husband, Dean, to the families of her staff members, Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson, who lost their lives in public service, and to the people of Indiana’s Second District who lost a representative who was one of their own.President Joe Biden
FOX59 will update this article with statements from lawmakers as they come in.
Lawmakers respond to deadly crash
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) tweeted a statement about the crash.
“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. We will have no further comment at this time.Kevin McCarthy
Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.) emailed a statement about the Congresswoman’s death.
“My heart is broken for Dean, the Walorski family, and all who knew and loved my friend Jackie. Jackie was a true public servant –selfless, humble, and compassionate. She was a devout Christian, a passionate advocate for life, and a leader among Hoosier representatives. 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. From my first day in Congress, Jackie showed me kindness and grace. She had a heart of gold, and I will miss her dearly. Please join Amanda and I in praying for Jackie’s loved ones and the friends and family of her two staff members who also lost their lives in this tragic accident.”Rep. Jim Banks
Rod Roberson, mayor of Elkhart, also sent in a statement about the death.
“I am shocked and saddened to learn of Rep. Jackie Walorski’s passing and the passing of her staff members. This is a devastating loss for Elkhart, Indiana, and for the nation. Jackie was a warrior for Hoosiers in Washington and her collaboration and passion was felt right here in Elkhart. Her dedication to serving our community will be hard to replace. Her family, her colleagues, and her staff are in my prayers.Mayor Rod Roberson
State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) offered the following statement:
“I am shaken and deeply sorry to hear about the passing of Representative Walorski, Zachery Potts and Emma Thompson.”
“Rep. Walorski has represented our community for a decade, and was always fiercely dedicated to her constituents and the betterment of Indiana. My thoughts and condolences are with her loved ones as well as the loved ones of Mr. Potts and Ms. Thompson.”State Senator David Niezgodski
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg also responded to Walorski’s death.
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.Secretary Pete Buttigieg
U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) issued the following statement:
“I’m truly devastated. Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them. 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. Please join me in praying for their families in this difficult time.”Sen. Todd Young
Congressman Greg Pence (R- Ind.) also responded to the news:
“Denise and I, and our whole team are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski’s passing. She was a dear friend and trusted mentor who always had serving Hoosiers at the top of her mind. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the community she loved, and words cannot describe what a tremendous loss this is for the State of Indiana and our Nation. I ask everyone to join me in praying for the Congresswoman’s family, friends, staff and those she served during this difficult time.”Rep. Greg Pence
Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch shared this statement:
“I was shocked and heartbroken when I received the news today about the tragic death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Jackie and I served together in the Indiana House of Representatives, and she was a fighter for her constituents and conservative Hoosier values. My heart goes out to her husband, Dean, and the rest of her family and friends. She will be deeply missed.”Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch
Attorney General Todd Rokita provided the following statement on Congresswoman Walorski’s death:
“Jackie Walorski was a woman who stood strong in her values, cared for her family, and served Hoosiers well. I have many great memories and stories of our time together in Congress and on the campaign trail. In addition to everything else, she had a great sense of humor. She will be missed. Our sympathies also go out to the families of Zach Potts and Emma Thomson who died in the same tragic accident. Hoosiers across the state mourn the loss of these public servants.”Attorney General Todd Rokita
Indiana House Democrats provided the following statement:
“On behalf of the Indiana Democratic Party, I want to express our sincere condolences to the friends and loved ones of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, Chairman Zach Potts, and Emma Thomson.
Jackie Walorski was a dedicated public servant, who cared deeply about her constituents and northern Indiana. If you’re a Hoosier, you’re a member of one family, and Indiana tragically lost dedicated family members today.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, to members of the communities across the Second District, and to the Indiana Republican Party.
Congresswoman Walorski served with devotion and passion in both the Indiana General Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. She made a lasting impact on Indiana and the United States.”Indiana House Democrats
Former Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted about the crash:
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.
Our prayers are with her husband Dean, her family, and the families of Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson who also perished in the crash. We’re praying God’s comfort over their families and to all who loved and admired this truly inspiring Indiana leader. God Bless Jackie Walorski.Mike Pence
Representative André Carson (D-IN) also provided a statement:
“I am heartbroken to hear of the untimely passing of my colleague, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, two of her Senior Staffers and all others who passed today in an automobile crash in northern Indiana. I, along with all Hoosiers are devastated by this loss. I am praying for her family, staff and constituents of the 2nd Congressional District.”Rep. André Carson
Representative Victoria Spartz (R-IN) tweeted the following statement:
My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Jackie Walorksi’s family and all the families affected by this heartbreaking tragedy. Jackie was a good friend and a strong fighter for our country and our freedoms. She will be missed dearly.Rep. Victoria Spartz
Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) provided the following statement:
“Jackie Walorski was a tireless advocate for the Hoosiers she represented and a kind friend to everyone she met. She faithfully served her constituents and her Lord and Savior, and I trust she is now wrapped in the arms of Christ. This is a devastating loss, and we grieve for her two staff members – Zach and Emma – who had their whole lives ahead of them. Please join me and Maureen in praying for the families and friends of those lost on this tragic day for Indiana.”Sen. Mike Braun
Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN) tweeted the following statement:
I am devastated and heartbroken by the deaths of my colleague and friend Jackie Walorski and her staff members Zachary Potts and Emma Thomson in a car crash earlier today. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of their families and friends.Rep. Larry Bucshon
Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN) tweeted the following statement:
My heart is heavy with the news from northern Indiana. Jackie was a true friend & an incredible colleague. Hoosiers have lost a champion & dedicated public servant. Danise’s & my prayers are with the Walorski family, as well as the families of the two staff members who passed.Rep. Jim Baird
Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) provided the following statement:
“My heart goes out to the families of Congresswoman Walorski, Emma Thomson and Zach Potts,” GiaQuinta said. “Working in politics, you develop a tight bond with the people you work with, and the loss of three dedicated Hoosiers is insurmountable. Congresswoman Walorski and I served in the Indiana House of Representatives with the shared values of creating a better state. May the memories of their legacies and work be a blessing to those who loved them and the people they served.”Phil GiaQuinta
Congressman Larry Buchshon (R-IN) provided the following statement.
“For almost a decade, Representative Jackie Walorski has served Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District with strength, honor, and duty. Her steadfast commitment to her district was evident in all that she did – whether it was her time spent at local businesses, meeting with constituents, or legislating here in D.C. – she always stayed true to her Hoosier values, working to make the world a better place. She was a great friend to many of us in Congress and her untimely death is a tremendous loss for the House of Representatives, our state, and our nation. May God watch over her husband Dean, her family, her staff, and her friends in the days to come.”
“As Members of Congress, our staff are more than just employees – they are individuals who share a dedication to public service and who work tirelessly each and every day to help us fulfill our duties to our constituents and to make our nation a better place. My thoughts and prayers are also with the families, coworkers, and friends of Representative Walorski’s two staff members, Emma Thomson and Zachery Potts, who also lost their lives today.”Rep. Bucshon
Indiana State Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) sent the following statement:
“I am shocked and devastated to learn of the deaths of Congresswoman Walorski and those who were involved in the tragic car accident this afternoon. Congresswoman Walorski was a ferocious advocate for her constituents and cared deeply about making Indiana and our country a better place for all of us. I know my family, and my colleagues here at the Statehouse, will be grieving alongside her loved ones and constituents.”Rodric Bray
Former Governor Mitch Daniels provided the following statement:
“There could not be worse news. I’m heartsick at this tragedy. Jackie Walorski was a great public servant, a brave and constant ally for change during all my years in elected office, and a great representative of her district at both the state and national levels. I can’t say how much I’ll miss her.”Mitch Daniels
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer today released the following statement:
“Today, we mourn the tragic loss of Rep. Jackie Walorski and members of her team, Zach Potts and Emma Thomson.
“In her years representing the people of northern Indiana as both a state representative and member of Congress, Rep. Walorski built a legacy of selfless service. It was a privilege of mine to work alongside her, as I have never met a more fierce or effective fighter for what she believed in.
“It takes an incredible team to work and stand beside an effective elected official. There were no better examples than Zach and Emma, who served not only Rep. Walorski, but their district, state, and country.
“I ask all Hoosiers to please join me in praying for the families of each of the victims of this tragic accident as we mourn these difficult losses.”Kyle Hupfer
Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement:
“Janet and I are devastated by the tragic loss of our friend Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and her two staffers – Emma Thomson and Zach Potts – earlier today. Our broken hearts go out to her husband Dean and the entire family during this time of unimaginable mourning. At every level of public service Jackie was known to be a positive force of nature, a patriot, and a relentless policy maker with an unwavering loyalty to her constituents. Jackie’s record of achievement is impossible to quantify. She will be remembered as a fighter with a huge heart that always went the extra mile and I’ll treasure the times we walked a few of those together. Every waking moment for her was energetically devoted to improving the lives of all Hoosiers better, the epitome of a good and faithful servant. She, and the example she set, will be missed every day forward.”Gov. Holcomb
Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan released the following statement:
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Jackie Walorski. Jackie loved Hoosiers, her country and served with honor in Congress. My prayers are with her family as well as the families of Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson”Holli Sullivan