Edith Schmucker was the 56-year-old Nappanee, Indiana, woman who was driving the car that collided with a vehicle carrying U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who was killed in the August 3 crash.
Schmucker’s name was confirmed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s department’s statement said that Schmucker also died in the crash, as did Walorski’s communications director, Emma Thomson, 28, and Zachery Potts, 27, her district director.
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. The Sheriff’s Department Initially Said Schmucker’s Car ‘Traveled Left of Center’; It Clarified That Potts Was Driving the Vehicle With the Congresswoman & ‘Crossed the Centerline’
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. Schmucker Worked as an Attendant at a Senior Living Community
According to her Facebook page, Schmucker worked as a “Personal Care Attendant (PCA) at Millers senior living community.”
She graduated from Warsaw High School, lived in Nappanee, Indiana, and was from Warsaw, Indiana, according to her page. She was single.
On Facebook, she wrote about family and shared inspirational graphics.
3. People Who Knew Schmucker Also Grieved for Her, Saying She ‘Would Do Anything for Anyone’
People who knew Schmucker expressed grief for her on social media. “Please pray for my family. Edith Schmucker is my aunt. She was like a second mom to me. She would do anything for anyone,” a woman wrote.
Tamra Schmucker wrote on Facebook, “Please say a prayer for my family as we all try to get through this. I will never forget all the things I learned from you as a kid and how you always would run your fingers through my hair every time you saw me and tell me how much you loved me. Until we meet again, I love you ❤️ RIP Aunt Edith Schmucker I hope you have the best time with grams and gramps up there!”
Another woman described Schmucker as having a “big heart.”
4. Walorski’s Husband, Dean Swihart, Confirmed That She Had ‘Returned Home to Be With 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.
Walorski had a long history of public service in Indiana. According to her biography, she was first elected to Congress in 2012, with a special interest in fighting for veterans and growing the economy.
She “served three terms in the Indiana Statehouse,” the bio says. She was assistant floor leader.
She “worked with then-Governor Mitch Daniels to restore fiscal responsibility, reform taxes and health care, and promote economic growth in Indiana,” the bio says.
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.”
The bio continues: “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.”
5. Emma Thomson Was a Communications Director in Political Circles for Years & Zachery Potts Worked for Walorski for More Than Three Years
According to her LinkedIn page, Emma Thomson was Walorski’s communications director for more than a year. Before that, she was the campaign manager for Dr. John Joyce for Congress.
She was also the communications director for the Office of Congressman Joyce. Before that, she served as communications director for the Office of Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.
Thomson also worked as a digital communications assistant for the Democracy Fund and as a press assistant for Marco Rubio for President.
She was also an intern in the U.S. Senate.
Zachery Potts, the other person who died, had worked for Walorski for more than three years, according to his LinkedIn page.
Before that, he worked as Walorski’s campaign manager and coordinator. He currently served as chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party. He was also 2nd District Young Republicans chair, vice chair of the St. Joseph Republican Party and Victory Team Captain of the Indiana Republican Party.
Potts was a volunteer at La Casa de Amistad Inc., helping teach native Spanish speakers the English language. He had bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University in political science/government and sociology.