Rep. Jackie Walorski and three other people died in a fatal car crash Wednesday, according to the sheriff’s office of Elkhart County, Ind.
The Indiana Republican was a senior House member, her party’s top member on the House Ethics Committee and a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Her communications director, Emma Thomson, and Zachery Potts, her district director, were also killed in the accident, the sheriff’s office announced, as was the driver of the vehicle that collided with theirs.
Walorski’s death is a shock to the Capitol community, where two other sitting House members have died this year: Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) died within a month of each other earlier this year.
First elected in 2012, the 58-year-old Walorski was also an advocate for children and families and an influential voice for women in the House GOP conference, helping to grow their ranks over time.
She’d been set to take on a leadership role on the Ways and Means Committee if Republicans took back the House in November. She would have overseen the worker and family support subcommittee.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy confirmed her death “with a heavy heart.” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called the congresswoman, who had been a member of his whip team, “a champion for the people of Indiana.”
“Jackie and her staffers died serving her constituents. They will be missed, and our nation will miss their service,” Scalise said in a statement.
Fellow Indiana Republican, Sen. Todd Young, said he was “truly devastated.”
“Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them,” he wrote. “I’ll never forget her spirit, her positive attitude, and most importantly her friendship.
Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), a close colleague of Walorski’s, called her “incredibly caring.”
“She always had a warm smile and a word of advice, and I will miss her friendship,” Hinson wrote.
Another GOP member, Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson, added that he was “at a loss for words.”
“Jackie was a kind soul with a huge heart. She was a trusted colleague and good friend,” Ferguson wrote. “There was no one who fought harder for her constituents than Jackie. I’m going to miss her terribly.”
Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misspelled the name of Zachery Potts.