U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, an Indiana Republican who served as a prime sponsor on the Stop for School Buses Act (STOP Act), died Aug. 3 in a head-on collision in Elkhart, Ind.
According to the Elkhart County Sheriff's Office, Walorski was in a northbound Toyota RAV 4, driven by Zachery Potts, 27, with Emma Thomson, 28, on State Road 19. Edith Schmucker, 56, was driving south in a Buick LeSabre. In a statement issued Aug. 4, investigators said that, based on eyewitness and video evidence, it appears that the RAV 4 crossed the centerline for reasons unknown and collided with the LeSabre. All occupants wore seatbelts and the airbags deployed.
All four died of their injuries.
Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just informed by the 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.— Jackie Walorski (@RepWalorski) August 3, 2022
Leaders of the National School Transportation Association mourned the loss, offering their thoughts and prayers for Walorksi's husband, Dean; her family; and the families of Potts and Thomson.
"Rep. Walorski was a tireless advocate on behalf of student transportation in the House of Representatives," said Carina Noble, NSTA president. "Her advocacy on pupil transportation only tells part of the story, as she was a kind and compassionate leader."
Said Curt Macysyn, NSTA's executive director: "NSTA called Jackie Walorski a 'school bus champion,' and she certainly was that, but more importantly, she exuded compassion and humanity in everything she accomplished. She will forever have a place in history for advancing school bus transportation for school children."
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement that the news was "devastating."
"Jackie was a dear friend, trusted advisor, and the embodiment of integrity who achieved the admiration and respect of all her colleagues in the House," McCarthy said. "She was passionate about empowering children and families in Indiana and around the world to thrive."
The STOP Act, first introduced in 2019 by Walorski and California Rep. Julia Brownley, came about after four Indiana children were struck by an illegally passing pickup truck while crossing the street to board their bus.
Walorski said at the time that the Indiana accident "was a reminder that life is precious and that we all need to work together to keep children safe."
"Every driver has a responsibility to exercise caution when students are present," she said, "and that includes never passing a school bus that has stopped with red lights flashing or its stop arm extended."