Indiana Congresswoman and Staff Killed in Tragic Car Crash
Prayers and support continue to pour in from those who knew and loved Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and her staff members.
Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski was killed in a head-on collision on Indiana’s State Road 19 midday Wednesday, August 3. The congresswoman was 58 years old, and served in Congress since 2013. The legislator’s district director Zachery Potts, 27, and communications director Emma Thomson, 28, also died in the incident. The driver of the other vehicle, 56-year-old Edith Schmucker, was pronounced dead on the scene.
Potts, who was also the chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party, worked in Mishawka, Indiana, while Thomson worked on Capitol Hill.
The late congresswoman’s district was positioned along Indiana’s northern border, and includes the cities of South Bend, Elkhart, and Goshen.
Gage Holder, a rising senior at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, recently finished a Capitol Hill internship in Rep. Walorski’s office. He told The American Conservative that “Congresswoman Walorski was a true public servant [who] walked humbly and showed the joy of the Lord in her work.”
Holder shared that Thomson had a newborn niece and said that she was “fantastic at her job, enjoyed coffee in her Indiana-themed coffee mug, and loved making the interns feel welcomed.”
Walorski was the ranking member of the Committee on Ethics, and a member of the Republican Study Committee and the Committee on Ways and Means.
Rep. Jim Banks (R, IN-3), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, called Walorski “a true public servant—selfless, humble, and compassionate. She was a devout Christian, a passionate advocate for life, and a leader among Hoosier representatives.”
Robert Lighthizer, former United States Trade Representative who worked with Walorski through her position on the Ways and Means Committee, told The American Conservative that "Jackie was an effective representative and a wonderful person. She’ll be greatly missed professionally and personally by all who knew her."
TAC’s Curt Mills reported in May of last year that Walorski was being considered to succeed Liz Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, a position currently held by New York’s Elise Stefanik.
Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said that she was “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.”
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, which is positioned in the late congresswoman’s district, said in a statement that Walorski “was always a gracious and welcoming supporter of Notre Dame students in Washington, D.C., and frequently invited our faculty to testify on issues before Congress.”
D. Michael Lindsay, Ph.D., president of Walorski’s alma mater Taylor University, called the congresswoman “a remarkable public servant and wonderful ambassador for the faith.”
According to a Wall Street Journal 2012 biography, Walorski worked as a television reporter for WSBT-TV in South Bend, and then as executive director for the St. Joseph County Humane Society.
A 2006 article in the Howey Political Report said Walorski “served in Eastern Europe as a missionary and worked with businesses there to establish American contacts.” To recognize her missionary work, she was honored in 2017 by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis as a commander in the Order of the Star of Romania, the country’s highest civil honor.
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Prior to her service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Walorski served in the 21st district of the Indiana House of Representatives, located in Elkhart, Indiana, from 2005-2010.
Potts worked for the congresswoman in campaign and governmental roles since June 2015, and Thomson worked in the governmental position since July 2021.
May they rest in peace.