Congressman dies in car accident


Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana) and two associates were killed in northern Indiana

US Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana) was killed Wednesday in a traffic accident near Elkhart, Indiana, along with two members of her staff and the driver of the other vehicle. The Indiana Republican was the highest-ranking member of the House Ethics Committee.

According to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office, which responded to a call around 12:30 a.m. local time, Walorski and her staff died from their injuries. The driver of the vehicle that “Driven left of center and collided head-on” with their SUV died on the spot.

Walorski, 58, was joined by 27-year-old Zachery Potts of Indiana and 28-year-old Emma Thomson of Washington, DC. The driver of the other vehicle was identified as Edith Schmucker, 56, from nearby Nappanee.

Shortly before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Walorski’s office issued: a statement that her husband, Dean Swihart, had been notified of her death.

“Today we lost one of our biggest members”, tweeted the Republican Study Commission. “Jackie Walorski lived a life of public service and was a friend to all who knew her.”

“Devastated to hear the terrible news of the passing of Jackie Walorski and her two staffers,” said House minority whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana). “She was a dear friend who loved serving the people of Indiana in Congress.”

While the House of Representatives is bitterly divided along partisan lines, many Democrats also sent condolences to Walorski, her family and the families of her staffers.

“My prayers are with the family and staff of my colleague, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, and the others who died tragically in a traffic accident today. Please keep them in your mind,” said Representative Val Demings (D-Florida).

“My heart is heavy and she will be missed. She and her family are in my thoughts,” tweeted Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois).

“Words cannot express how saddened I am to hear of the loss of my dear colleague Rep. Jackie Walorski and her team members,” tweeted representative Shontel Brown (D-Ohio). “My thoughts and prayers will remain with the family and loved ones at this difficult time.”

Walorski has represented Indiana’s 2nd congressional district since 2013 and previously served as a state legislator from 2005 to 2010. Before entering politics, she was a local journalist, ran an animal shelter, and worked in academia before moving to Romania as a missionary.

She is the third House member to die in office this year. In February, Representative Jim Hagedorn (R-Minnesota) died of kidney cancer at age 59. The following month, Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) passed out and died on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle, aged 88.

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