ELKHART – A car carrying US Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-2nd District) was the vehicle that apparently crossed the center line of Indiana 19 and collided with oncoming traffic, according to new information from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.
The Wednesday crash killed four people, including Walorski, and two others in the car at the time – 27-year-old Zach Potts and 28-year-old Emma Thomson. Nappanee resident Edith Schmucker, 56, was driving the other direction and was hit by Walorski’s vehicle and also died at the scene.
Walorski, 58, has served Indiana’s 2nd district in the US House of Representatives since 2013.
Potts was the chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party. Thomson was Walorski’s communications director. The group was reportedly returning from a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Claypool.
The information provided by Elkhart County police Thursday runs counter to what the department initially said regarding the circumstances of the crash. Police originally said that Schmucker was driving a maroon Buick LeSabre northbound on Indiana 19 when she crossed the center line and hit a silver Toyota RAV 4 driven by Potts going south.
Police now say Walorski and her team were driving north and Potts “crossed the center line for reasons that are unknown at this time” and hit Schmucker, who was driving south. The crash occurred just south of the roundabout where Indiana 19 connects with Indiana 119.
“The information from the preliminary investigation at the scene, as to the direction of travel of the vehicles, was not correct,” a release from Elkhart county police states, adding they became aware of eyewitnesses and video evidence that contradicted the initial report.
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Tribune messages to the Elkhart sheriff’s office and the Elkhart County coroner have not been returned as of Thursday morning. Indianapolis TV station Fox59 reported before 8 pm Wednesday night that the department had retracted its initial statement, but The Tribune was unable to verify the retraction. The department released a new statement at 10:26 am Thursday correcting the error. The department’s Facebook page was updated to correct the error at 11:05 am Thursday.
The release adds that everyone involved in the crash was wearing their seatbelts and that airbags did deploy.