Indiana Republican Representative Jackie Walorski has died in a car crash that also killed two of Walorski’s staffers, House Republican leaders announced Wednesday.
The news shocked Capitol Hill and immediately prompted an outpouring of grief and remembrances from lawmakers and aides who honored the lives and careers of the congressman and the two staffers.
Walorski, 58, represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District and was a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives. She began serving in Congress in 2013.
The congressman was seen inside the House Republican conference as someone who could one day rise to the ranks of the GOP leadership, and his name was batted around for a job as conference chairman in the past. She was a member of the House GOP deputy sheriff’s team.
Walorski’s death was announced by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“The Elkhart County Sheriff’s office said Jackie’s husband, Dean Swihart, 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,” read a message from Congressman’s office tweeted by McCarthy.
A statement issued by the Congress office said two staff members also died. “In addition to the devastating loss of the Walorski Conference, it is with a broken heart that I announce the passing of two dedicated members of her staff, Zach Potts and Emma Thomson. They were a model of public servants who cared deeply about the work they did,” said the statement from Tim Cummings, chief of staff of the Congress.
McCarthy called the congressman’s death “absolutely devastating” in a lengthy statement released later Wednesday. “Jackie was a dear friend, a trusted advisor, and an honest person who earned the respect and admiration of all her colleagues in the House,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in response to the congressman’s death, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, announced Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Pelosi said the congresswoman had a “life of service” and was “respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness.”
House Minority Leader Steve Scalise said in a statement that Walorski “was a champion for the people of Indiana, and will be remembered for her kindness, tenacity and commitment to helping others.”
The congresswoman served as the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, a position that put her in line to chair the panel if the GOP regains the House majority in the upcoming midterm elections. She also served as the GOP ranking member of a subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means committee.
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted in response to the news, “There has never been a more dedicated or effective member of Congress than Jackie,” adding, “I was proud to be her friend.”
Walorski died in a vehicle accident, according to a statement from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office.
“A northbound passenger car traveled left of center and collided head-on with the southbound sport utility vehicle,” the statement said.
The three occupants of the southbound vehicle died from their injuries, the statement said.
This story has been updated with additional developments on Wednesday.