By Lawrence Wilson | The Center Square contributo
(The Center Square) – State and federal leaders from both parties have expressed grief over the death of Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican who represented Indiana’s second congressional district, while the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department released a correction on details of the crash that resulted in the death of the 58-year-old lawmaker and three others Wednesday.
Walorski and three others were killed in a two-car collision on State Route 19, south of State Route 119. Information released Thursday morning indicates that, contrary to initial reports, Walorski’s vehicle was traveling northbound when it crossed the centerline, resulting in a collision.
The vehicle was driven by Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, Indiana, according to police. Emma Thomson, 28, of Washington, D.C., was a passenger in the vehicle. Both members of Walorski’s staff.
The sole occupant of the northbound vehicle, Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, Indiana, was pronounced dead at the scene. All were killed in the crash.
Condolences to Walorski’s family and praise for her work in Congress began pouring in from leaders in both parties immediately after news of the crash was announced.
“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,” President Joe Biden wrote in a statement. Mr. Biden added that she was respected by members of both parties.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote, “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 ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol lowered to half-staff in Walorski’s memory.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he and Janet Holcomb were devastated at Walorski’s death. He wrote, “Every waking moment for her was energetically devoted to improving the lives of all Hoosiers, the epitome of a good and faithful servant.” Holcomb ordered flags at state facilities be lowered to half-staff in Walorski’s memory until the date of her burial.
Former colleagues in the Indiana legislature recalled Walorski as a trusted friend and fierce advocate for her constituents.
Walorski was a graduate of South Bend’s Riley High School and Taylor University, Upland, Indiana. Her career began as a news reporter for WSBT-TV in South Bend.
She represented Indiana’s 21st legislative district in the state House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 until her death, where she was ranking member of the Ethics Committee.
Walorski is survived by her husband of 27 years, Dean Swihart.
Holcomb has not announced whether a special election will be held to fill the remainder of Walorski’s term.