The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office now says the car carrying U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown) was traveling northbound and crossed the center line ahead of Wednesday’s fatal crash.
The department originally reported the opposite — Walorksi was traveling south and was hit by a northbound driver around 12:30 p.m. — but says that preliminary information was incorrect.
In a Thursday news release, officials say evidence from the scene, eyewitnesses and video evidence confirm that the silver Toyota RAV 4 carrying Walorski was traveling northbound on State Route 19 south of Wakarusa and crossed the center line just before the crash.
The RAV 4 was being driven by district director and St. Joseph County Republican Party Chair Zachery Potts. The department says it’s currently unknown why it crossed the center line and collided with the southbound vehicle, a maroon Buick LeSabre driven by Edith Schmucker.
Walorski, Potts, Schmucker and communications director Emma Thomson were all killed in the accident. The Sheriff’s Office says all four were wearing seatbelts and that airbags did deploy. The investigation is ongoing.
Walorski had represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. She succeeded Democrat Joe Donnelly, who vacated the seat to run for U.S. Senate.
Walorski was born in South Bend and grew up in the Gilmer Park area. After attending Liberty Baptist College and graduating from Taylor University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and public administration, she worked as a reporter at WSBT-TV for four years.
Following that, Walorski held various positions with the St. Joseph County Humane Society, Ancilla College, the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce and Indiana University South Bend before moving to Romania in 2000 to found and run a Christian charity ministry.
She was elected to the Indiana House in 2004 and served three terms before challenging Donnelly for the 2nd congressional district seat in 2010. She lost but announced plans to run for the seat again in 2011.
During the 2011-2013 session, the predominantly Republican Indiana legislature redrew the 2nd District, removing Michigan City and adding all of Elkhart County.
This made the district more Republican, and Donnelly opted to run for U.S. Senate instead. Walorski was narrowly elected in 2012, beating Democrat Brendan Mullen by just 1.4 percentage points. She was re-elected in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 by more substantial margins.
Reactions to her death have poured in from across the country.