US Representative Jackie Walorski, a Republican from Indiana’s 2nd district, has been killed in an automobile accident.
According to multiple local news outlets Ms Walorski died following a crash in Elkhart County at 12.32 pm local time on Wednesday.
Ms Walorski’s communications director, Emma Thompson, was named among the deceased, as was a local Republican Party official. According to an initial police report, Ms Walorski’s vehicle was struck head-on by a driver who crossed over into oncoming traffic; the driver of that vehicle died as well. Witness statements later indicated that it was the car carrying the congresswoman that crossed the center line.
A northbound passenger car traveled left of center and collided head on with a southbound vehicle.
Walorski, Zachary Potts with the St. Joseph County Republican Party, and Walorski’s comm. director Emma Thompson all passed away.
— Erica Finke WSBT (@EricaFinkeTV) August 3, 2022
A statement from Ms Walorski’s office was shared on Twitter by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and later the congresswoman’s own account.
The Indiana Republican served on the House Ethics Committee and was considered a potential contender for a future leadership position, having in the past served on the team of Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a fellow Republican, was one of the first to release a statement after the news broke.
“My heart is heavy, and I don’t have the words. But all I can say is prayers for her family. She was a good and honorable public servant,” he tweeted.
Fred Upton, a GOP congressman from Michigan, remarked that he often shared a flight home with Ms Walorski due to the proximity of their respective districts.
“I am indeed heartbroken to hear the news of my colleague, and next-door neighbor, Jackie Walorski. Of course, we were close and usually traveled on the same plane back and forth from South Bend to DC and back home usually sitting next to each other,” he said in a statement.
He added: “Her Hoosier heart was never in doubt, and she led a life of service from wife, missionary, and leader in the Congress working on bipartisan issues, and as a gracious and thoughtful lady.”
Other tributes poured in around Capitol Hill as the congresswoman was remembered for her kindness and willingness to reach across the aisle to work on projects including school meal policies. Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags around the Capitol lowered to half-mast.
“Today, the United States House of Representatives sadly mourns the sudden and tragic passing of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. A lifelong Hoosier, Congresswoman Walorski lived a life of service: whether caring for impoverished children in Romania, representing her community in the Indiana Statehouse or serving nearly a decade in the House. 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,” Ms Pelosi said.
“Our Congressional community also mourns the loss of two devoted members of her staff, Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson. May it be a comfort to Jackie’s husband and partner in service, Dean, the entire Walorski family, the families of all the victims and the office of Indiana’s Second Congressional District that so many joining them in mourning and are praying for them at this sad time,” added the speaker.
Republican Party chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a statement: “I am devastated to learn of the passing of my good friend, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. She was an incredible public servant for Hoosiers and leader within the Republican Party. The entire Republican National Committee is praying for her family, as well as the families of the two staff who were also tragically killed.”
President Joe Biden and first lady Dr Jill Biden also released a statement later Wednesday evening.
“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,” said Mr Biden.
“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,” added the president.
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