Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican congresswoman from Indiana, was killed Wednesday in a car crash near Nappanee, police said.
Walorski, 58, and two others riding in the same southbound SUV died in the head-on collision with another vehicle, whose driver also died, according to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office.
The other passengers in Walorski’s vehicle were identified as St. Joseph County Republican Party Chair Zachery Potts, 27, and Walorski’s communications director, 28-year-old Emma Thomson.
Thomson also worked on Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. In a tweet, Rubio honored her as a “smart and talented communicator and an amazing young woman.”
Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy shared a brief statement on Twitter Wednesday, saying, “It is with a heavy heart that I am sharing this statement from the Office of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski.”
“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,” reads the statement.
“She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” it continues. “Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. We will have no further comment at this time.” Jackie Walorski.
Walorski has represented Indiana’s District 2 since 2013. She earned the Republican nomination for reelection in May and was slated to defend her congressional seat against Democratic challenger Paul Steury in November’s midterm elections.
“I am shocked and saddened by the news of Representative Walorski’s passing. Words are hard to come by in moments like these, especially when such a tragedy happens so suddenly,” Steury wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Rep. Walorski committed her life to service. But having met Jackie as both a constituent and on the campaign trail, it was her kindness, even to those who disagreed with her, that stuck out the most.”
Before serving in Washington, Walorski served three terms in the Indiana Statehouse.
According to a biography on her website, Walorski and her husband spent four years as missionaries in Romania, running a foundation they started to help children get food and medical supplies.
Walorski was a former TV news reporter in South Bend and also worked as a development director for Indiana’s colleges and universities, according to her bio.
“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,” the bio reads. “She brings these values to her service to the 2nd District of Indiana. Jackie and Dean, a Mishawaka school teacher, live in Jimtown.”
Fellow Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said in a Twitter post Wednesday, “My heart is heavy, and i don’t have the words. But all I can say is prayers for her family. She was a good and honorable public servant.”
An investigation into the crash by Elkhart County Coroner’s Office and the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office is ongoing.