U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski was an Indiana congresswoman who died in a traffic crash on August 3, 2022, according to her office. She was 58.
Kevin McCarthy, House Minority leader, tweeted on August 3, 2022, “It is with a heavy heart that I am sharing this statement from the Office of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski.” The statement confirmed Walorski’s death.
Walorski’s communications director, Emma Thomson, and Zachery Potts, her district director, also died in the accident, as did the driver of the other vehicle, according to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.
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.
Walorski’s official Twitter page also shared the tragic news.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Walorski’s Husband, Dean Swihart, Confirmed That She Was Killed in a Car Accident
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. Walorski Served 3 Terms in the Indiana Statehouse
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.
3. Walorski & Her Husband Dean, a School Teacher, Spent Years as 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.”
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.”
The school district congratulated Swihart in April 2015, 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. Walorski’s Last Tweet Criticized Government Spending
Walorski’s last tweet came less than a day before the accident that took her life.
“During the Biden Recession, the last thing we need is more reckless, big-government spending that fuels inflation,” the tweet read.
“The latest tax-and-spend scheme would send Americans deeper into Biden’s economic crisis. Hoosiers can’t afford the Schumer-Manchin tax hikes.”
5. Emma Thomson Was a Communications Director in Political Circles for Years & Zachery Potts Worked for Walorski for More Than 3 Years
According to her LinkedIn page, 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.