Walorski’s communications director, Emma Thomson, and Zachery Potts, her district director, died with the Republican congresswoman in the accident, as did the driver of the other vehicle, according to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.
Her death was also confirmed by Swihart, via a statement posted to Walorski’s official Twitter page on August 3, 2022.
According to her Congressional biography, Walorski, a Republican, served on some powerful committees, including the House Ways and Means Committee. She was the ranking member of the “Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support,” and she served as the ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, the bio says.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Walorski’s Husband, Dean Swihart, Confirmed Her Death, a Statement Posted to Her Twitter Page Says, Informing People She ‘Returned Home to Be Wither Her Lord & Savior’
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released a statement on Twitter that read,
Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just informed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s office that Jackie was killed in a car accident this afternoon. She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have no further comment at this time.
Her official Twitter page also released the same statement.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department released a statement on Facebook that read,
On August 3, 2022 at approximately 12:32 p.m. the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two vehicle crash on SR 19 south of SR 119. A northbound passenger car traveled left of center and collided head on with a southbound sports utility vehicle.
All three occupants in the southbound vehicle died as a result of their injuries:
Jackie Walorski, 58, Elkhart, Indiana
Zachery Potts, 27, Mishawaka, Indiana
Emma Thomson, 28, Washington, DC
The sole occupant of the northbound vehicle, Edith Schmucker, 56, Nappanee, Indiana was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The Elkhart County Coroner’s Office and the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office are conducting the investigation. No additional information will be released at this time.
However, on August 4, 2022, the sheriff’s department released an updated statement:
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office has obtained updated information into the vehicle crash that occurred on August 3, 2022. The information from the preliminary investigation at the scene, as to the direction of travel of the vehicles, was not correct. The continuing investigation has located eyewitness and video evidence.
Both confirm that the maroon Buick LeSabre driven by Edith Schmucker, 56, Nappanee, Indiana, was southbound on SR 19 south of SR 119 and the silver Toyota RAV 4, driven by Zachery Potts, 27, Mishawaka, Indiana, was northbound on SR 19. The Toyota RAV 4 crossed the centerline for reasons that are unknown at this time and the two vehicles collided. All occupants of both vehicles were confirmed to have been wearing seatbelts and airbags did deploy. The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to interview witnesses and collect evidence from the scene and vehicles. If anyone has information or witnessed this crash, we ask that they contact the Sheriff’s Office. If any new information becomes available as the investigation continues, we will send updated releases.
2. Swihart & Walorski Were Once Missionaries in Romania
Walorski and her husband Dean were both missionaries, according to the Congressional biography.
“Jackie and her husband Dean previously spent four years as missionaries in Romania, where they started and ran a foundation to provide food and medical supplies to impoverished children there,” the bio says.
“Jackie also worked as a television news reporter in South Bend and as a development director for colleges and universities in Indiana.”
3. Swihart Is a K-6 Music Teacher
Walorski’s Congressional bio reveals that her husband is a Mishawaka school teacher:
The daughter of a firefighter, small business owner, and Air Force veteran, Jackie was raised with the Hoosier values of hard work, determination, and public service. She brings these values to her service to the 2nd District of Indiana. Jackie and Dean, a Mishawaka school teacher, live in Jimtown.
Walorski sometimes gave a shout out to Swihart’s teaching career on Twitter.
The school district recently congratulated Swihart, writing, “Congratulations to Dean Swihart, K-6 Music teacher at Hums Elementary and Twin Branch Elementary, on a great performance of the National Anthem at the Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat game in Indianapolis on Easter Sunday. The game was a sell out and there were about 18,000 people in attendance.”
4. Swihart Was Often at Walorski’s Side During Campaign Events
Walorski sometimes shared pictures of Swihart on the campaign trail. “I just love how Dean is always right there being so supportive of Jackie and what she does 🙂” a woman wrote under one of them.
In 2019, Walorski tweeted, “The 116th Congress is in session! I was honored to be sworn in with Dean and our family and friends by my side. It is a privilege to represent 2nd District Hoosiers, and I’m ready to get back to work fighting for you.”
He was also at her side when she met with former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen.
Swihart’s father’s obituary described her husband’s family’s pride in her success. “He was a proud supporter of his daughter-in-law, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who is a member of Congress, and always carried his custom-made sign in parades,” it says of Merl Swihart, Dean’s dad. That obit describes the Swihart family’s deep roots in Indiana.
5. The Couple Celebrated Christmas by Volunteering at a Faith Mission
In 2016, Walorski tweeted, “Dean and I celebrated Christmas morning by volunteering at Faith Mission of Elkhart to help serve a meal to those in need. Merry Christmas!”
They married in 1995, according to Legistorm.