“I am devastated and saddened to learn about the tragic passing of my dear friend Jackie Walorksi and two of her staffers,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise announced in a statement.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Walorski’s death, sharing a statement from the family.
“Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just informed by Elkhart County Sheriff’s office that Jackie 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 the congresswoman’s office that McCarthy tweeted.
A statement released by the congresswoman’s office said that two staffers had also died. “In addition to the devastating loss of Congresswoman Walorski, 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 the epitome of public servants who cared deeply about the work they performed,” said the statement from Tim Cummings, the congresswoman’s chief of staff.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in response to the death of the congresswoman, Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill announced Wednesday afternoon.
News of the congresswoman’s death and the death of two of her staffers came as a major shock on Capitol Hill and immediately sparked an outpouring of grief and remembrances from lawmakers and aides who paid tribute to their lives and careers.
The congresswoman was viewed inside the House Republican conference as someone who could one day ascend to the ranks of GOP leadership, and her name had been batted around for the position of conference chairwoman in the past. She had been a member of the House GOP’s deputy whip team.
Walorski, who was 58, represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District and had previously served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives. She began serving in Congress in 2013.
The congresswoman served as the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, a spot that put her in line to become chair of the panel if the GOP retakes the House majority in the upcoming midterm elections. She also served as the ranking GOP member for a subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means committee.
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted in reaction to the news, “There was no more dedicated or effective member of Congress than Jackie,” adding, “I was proud to be her friend.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.