By BRIAN SLODYSKO and TOM DAVIES
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski was killed Wednesday in a car crash in her northern Indiana district along with two members of her congressional staff and another person, police said.
The crash happened about 12:30 p.m. when a car crossed the center line on state highway and collided head-on with the SUV Walorski was riding in, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said. Three people in the SUV, including Walorski, 58, were killed, as was a woman driving the other car, authorities said.
Walorski, who served on the House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected to represent Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in 2012. She previously served six years in the state’s Legislature.
“She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers,” Walorski’s chief of staff Tim Cummings said in a statement.
Walorski and her husband were previously Christian missionaries in Romania, where they established a foundation that provided food and medical supplies to impoverished children. She worked as a television news reporter in South Bend before turning to politics.
Also killed in the crash were Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, Indiana; Emma Thomson, 28, of Washington, D.C.; and Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, Indiana, according to the sheriff’s office.
Cummings confirmed that Potts and Thomson were members of Walorski’s congressional staff. Thompson was Walorski’s communications director, while Potts was her district director and the Republican chairman for northern Indiana’s St. Joseph County.
Schmucker was driving the other car, according to the sheriff’s office. The crash, which occurred in a rural area near the town of Wakarusa, is still under investigation.
Indiana Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young said he was devastated” by Walorski’s death.
“Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them,” Young said in a statement. “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.”
Walorski was seeking reelection this year to a sixth term in the solidly Republican district.
Davies reported from Indianapolis.