Rep. Jackie Walorski and staff members killed in car crash
Indiana Congresswoman, Jackie Walorski, and two of her staffers were killed in a car crash on August 3, 2022 in Elkhart County, Indiana.
Born in South Bend, Walorski worked for a local television station, the South Bend Chamber of Commerce, the St. Joseph County Humane Society, and Indiana University South Bend before being elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2004. After winning nearly 50% of the vote in 2012, Walorski was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served Indiana’s 2nd District, which spans from Wabash County to Elkhart and includes South Bend, for almost a decade.
House Republican Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA) reflected on Walorski’s deep integrity, kindness, and commitment to her constituents in a statement released by his office following her death: “She was a champion for the people of Indiana, and she will be remembered for her kindness, tenacity, and commitment to helping others. Jackie and her staffers died serving her constituents.”
Alongside her service as a dedicated public servant, Walorski’s Christian faith and upbringing inspired her to serve as a missionary in Romania and found a non-profit, Impact International Ministries, which provides medical supplies to impoverished children across the globe. Walorski’s husband, Dean Swihart, commented on Walorski’s faith and mission to WNDU, “[faith] was in the front of our minds all the time. We prayed so many times that this job with Congress was not, you know, an opportunity for us to get a big head … It was always about the Gospel.”
Following the death of Walorski, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., released a statement mourning the death of the Congresswoman. Jenkins stated, “She was always a gracious and welcoming supporter of Notre Dame students in Washington, D.C., and frequently invited our faculty to testify on issues before Congress.”
Acknowledging Walorski’s position as the House Representative for Notre Dame and the surrounding community, Jenkins continued, “Congresswoman Walorski was also an advocate and supporter of key initiatives on campus, including the Notre Dame Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities and its important work of building evidence and data to strengthen anti-poverty intervention programs.”
Ambassador Joe Donnelly, a Notre Dame alumnus and current U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, commented on Walorski’s love for Notre Dame: “[Notre Dame] is a huge part of the fabric of our community. I know what a big fan she was.”
Donnelly, who served as Indiana’s 2nd District representative before Walorski and later as a U.S Senator for Indiana, continued, “We both lived and died by the Fighting Irish. She always had a smile on her face when Notre Dame would win.”
At Congresswoman Walorksi’s funeral, held at Granger Community Church, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recounted how Walorski took him to his first Notre Dame football game years ago. When he did not have any cold weather gear, Walorski offered him her husband’s coat.
Considered one of the emerging leaders of the Republican Party, Walorski served as the Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee and served on the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means. During her tenure, Walorski was committed to expanding support for Veterans, combatting childhood poverty, reforming military sexual assault protections, and much more.
Walorski also committed her time as a Congresswoman to protecting the unborn. A member of the Susan B. Anthony’s List Pro-Life Caucus, Walorski held an A+ voting record in defending the unborn, and just weeks before her death voted “No” on the Women’s Health Protection Act that seeks to repeal almost all abortion restrictions nationwide.
In 2017, Walorski made statewide headlines after attempting to block the creation of Whole Women’s Health, an abortion facility in South Bend. While her efforts failed, Walorski would later join her fellow constituents in praying just outside the clinic for the sanctity of life. In 2021, Walorski discussed how her and her fellow pro-life constituents were threatened by a car that attempted to swerve into their lawful gathering outside the clinic.
Despite the attempted intimidation, Walorski wrote, “The Hoosiers I met that day work tirelessly to defend the most vulnerable among us, the unborn. They will not be silenced or intimidated by threats or acts of violence from radical activists who want to deny others their First Amendment rights.”
On August 20, the Republican Party of Indiana selected Rudy Yakam to replace Walorski on November’s ballot. Yakam, a former campaign staffer for Walorski and Elkhart business executive, won the nomination after receiving the endorsement of Walorski’s husband, Dean Swihart. Yakam, who is committed to continuing the work of Walorski in Congress, is a heavy favorite to defeat Democrat Paul Steury in the November election.
Nico Schmitz is a Junior from Pasadena, California majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies with minors in constitutional studies and theology. When he is not wandering around the lakes or playing wiffle ball on Baumer Bay, you can find him reading in CoMo. Send him your opinions at email@example.com
Photo Credit: U.S. Congress