September 16, 2022

Elkhart County Sheriff releases final report on crash that killed Rep. Jackie Walorski, three others


Article origination WVPE 88.1 Elkhart/South Bend
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski - U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski
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U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski / Facebook

The Elkhart County Sheriff's Office has concluded its investigation and released its final report on the Aug. 3 car crash that killed Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown) and three others.

The crash happened on State Route 19 south of Wakarusa. According to a press release, the Sheriff's Office says it was caused when the RAV 4 SUV carrying Walorski crossed the centerline while trying to pass another vehicle on a two-lane highway at an excessive speed.

The RAV 4 was being driven by staffer Zachery Potts. Police say a witness reported the SUV was behind an unidentified flatbed truck in the northbound lane. The RAV 4 then slowed down to put distance between it and the truck before accelerating and swerving into the oncoming lane to pass.

The SUV then collided with the southbound Buick driven by Edith Schmucker. Police say data from the RAV 4’s airbag control module shows it was traveling at 82 miles per hour 5 seconds before the crash, and that the engine was at idle with the car coasting down to around 77 miles per hour milliseconds before the airbags deployed.

The module also recorded that the SUV was steered to the left consistent with the normal operation of the vehicle just before the crash, which matches up with the eyewitness account.

Walorski, Potts, Schmucker and communications director Emma Thomson were all killed in the accident. All four were wearing seatbelts. In addition, the Sheriff's Office says all four cell phones were examined and no evidence was found showing the phones were being used prior to or during the crash.

The Elkhart County Coroner has listed all four deaths as accidental due to the injuries sustained in the crash.

Police had originally reported that Walorksi was traveling south and was hit by a northbound driver, but said the next day that they were mistaken.

Walorski was laid to rest in South Bend’s Southlawn Cemetery following an Aug. 11 funeral at Granger Community Church. Elected in 2012, she represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional district for four terms prior to her death.

In an Aug. 20 party caucus, Indiana Republicans chose her former campaign finance director Rudy Yakym as their nominee in this November’s same-day special and general elections for the seat. Yakym is facing Democrat Paul Steury, a Goshen teacher.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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