Who was Jackie Walorski, the congresswoman who was recently in a car accident?

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Family, friends and colleagues in both Washington DC and Indiana mourn the loss of Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

Walorski and two of her associates were killed this week in a car accident in Elkhart County, Indiana. The driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident was also killed.

Walorski’s associates were Emma Thomson, who handled communications, and Zachery Potts, who was her district director.

While the Elkhart County Police Department’s investigation into the collision is ongoing, initial reports from the Sheriff’s Department stated that the second vehicle crossed the centerline and hit Walorski’s car head-on. The South Bend Tribune reports that police now say it was Walorski’s car that crossed the center line.

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Deep Indiana Roots

Jackie Walorski was born and raised in Indiana and grew up near South Bend. She attended Liberty College and graduated from Taylor University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and public administration. She began her career as a reporter for WSBT, an affiliate of South Bend UKTN.

During her life, she also worked for the St. Joseph County Indiana Humane Society, Ancilla College, South Bend Regional Chamber, and Indiana University South Bend.

Walorski was also deeply rooted in her faith. She and her husband Dean Swihart also established and directed a Christian ministry in Romania for four years.

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Jackie Walorski began her political career when she was elected to the Indiana State House in 2004, where she served three terms. She first ran for Congress in 2010, but lost to incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly.

Walorski won in 2012 to represent Indiana’s 2nd congressional district.

Once in Congress, Jackie Walorski was known as a strong champion for children and families. She was also an outspoken voice for women at the GOP conference and was instrumental in increasing the number of women in the conference. She was slated for a leadership role on the House Ways and Means Committee if Republicans took the House in November.

Before her untimely death, she wrote 21 bills in the current 117th Congress.

Among them were a bill to increase choice in education, a bill to increase the benefits of telehealth and a bill to combat the international fentanyl trade. Her other legislation has largely focused on seniors and children.

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Shock and grief in Indiana

The reaction from Indiana and Washington DC was one of sadness and disbelief at the news of Walorski’s death. In addition to former Vice President and fellow Hoosier Mike Pence, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb made a statement in a series of tweets.

Fellow Hoosier and Congresswoman Victoria Spartan called her friend “a strong fighter for our country and our freedoms.”

Indiana House Democrats also tweeted support.

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DC also mourns loss

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted on behalf of Walorski’s office:

House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) called Walorski “a champion for the people of Indiana.” He added: “Jackie and her staff died serving her constituents. They will be missed, and our nation will miss their service.” Walorski had served on Scalise’s whip team.

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Rep. Todd Young said he was “really devastated”.

Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) stated that he “had no words”. He continued: “Jackie was a kind soul with a huge heart. She was a reliable colleague and good friend. There was no one who fought harder for her constituents than Jackie. I’m going to miss her terribly.”

House Republicans have lost two other members this year. Alaska’s longest-serving Congressman, Don Young, died in March at age 88, and Minnesota Representative Jim Hagedorn, who died in February after losing his battle with cancer.

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